Illegal to film police officers while making an arrest. Insane new trend in state laws.

“At least” three states now have laws on the books making it illegal to film police officers while they are making an arrest. The laws are based largely on wiretapping regulations, which require that all parties consent.*

In Illinois, it is a Class I Felony, punishable by 4-15 years in prison.

Necessary defense of officers doing their jobs, or unconscionable violation of civil rights? I vote the latter.

Several disturbing cases are cited in the article.

*Wait. Does that even make sense? All parties must consent to a tap? Why do it at all, then?

Too much police wrong-doing is being caught by the public on camera, so let’s make the footage inadmissable. Can’t understand why they hadn’t thought of it beforehand.

Sorry, the article cites the laws as prohibiting filming officers at any time when they’re on duty, not just during an arrest. My mistake.

Is it idnadmissible in court because it is illegal?

I understand that evidences illegally obtained by the police would, but what about evidences who happened to have been obtained illegally by a third party? For instance if I burglarize a house, and steal items that turn out latter to be meaningful evidences in another crime the houseowner is involved in, would they be inadmissible?

Absolutely not! While on duty, police officers are performing a public function, they have not the slightest expectation of privacy. Certainly a private citizen may not interfere with an officer performing his function, but simply recording how that function is performed? One hundred percent legit.

You have no protection against your constitutional rights being violated by a non-state actor. So yes, such evidence is admissible.

I haven’t seen these laws, though, and have no idea what they would say about the admissibility of any tape as evidence. Whether admissible or not, there is certainly a chilling effect involved if you know you can get banged up for making it.

This whole thing makes me sad.

So in these states, are the police allowed to videotape me with their patrol car camera without my permission?

Wow. Is there any chance the article is missing something? The public place exception is gargantuan. I know because my 1L writing and research class (from seven years ago) focused on privacy issues; therefore, I’m an expert. :slight_smile:

But really, the article suggests that anyone who films anyone in a public space could face criminal charges. Film a street performer? They didn’t actually consent to you filming them. Catch an accident in your frame? What, you must delete it?

The implications are just bizarre.

Can anyone with *actual *familiarity of the relevant case law chime in?

Let’s hope that the Supreme court strikes these laws down.

The Illinois statute is rather broad. It doesn’t even allow for a defense that the person being recorded had no expectation of privacy, which does make the law easier to enforce. It does provide a list of exemptions, though, including a bunch for the police that allows them to record traffic stops, do undercover work, etc.

There is an exemption for non-police to record another person who they reasonably believe is committing a crime against the person recording or is about to. I don’t know if that would be a defense for the person in the article who was peddling street art and trying to test the peddlers law. The law also seems to be primarily concerned with protecting oral conversations or electronic communications, so a video recording or picture with no audio might be okay. At least in Illinois, it would appear that the state legislature would have to pass a specific exemption for a citizen recording the police in the performance of their duties (which would be a good exemption, IMO).

Furthermore, when they step in front of their own cameras after pulling you over and approaching your car, are they breaking the law?

From here this looks like a totally stupid abuse of power.

In Massachusettes, a man was arrested in a similar fashion for videotaping an arrest. The charges were dismissed and he and the ACLU are now suing the city and the arresting officers.
From what I can tell, this is not a new law, but cops taking advantage of existing wiretap laws that make illegal to record conversations without concent or due process.

From the OP’s link:

I wonder how the “unless it is obvious to all that the recording is underway” is worded?
If I’m holding a camcorder up, should it not be obvious that I may be recording? Maybe if I shout “I am making a video recording”.

Does this make surveillance video recording illegal should the police enter your establishment to make an arrest? Or does that fall under the recording underway exemption?

Does this cover the media?

Or is the deal that they have big cameras and your camcorder is too small to be “easily” seen?

Also as mentioned what about security cameras…particularly ones pointed at public places like sidewalks?

Sounds absurd to me and I would be shocked if this stood up in court.

This is extremely depressing. It is not unheard of for a police officer to assault a citizen then fabricate a resisting arrest or false police report to CYA.

Recording police officers breaking the law is a crime now. That is fucking depressing. The article sums it up.

What if you yell ‘hey I’m recording you’, is that still going to be illegal if the police know you are recording them? Do you need consent of the other party, or does just them knowing they are being recorded suffice?

If you yell ‘hey I’m recording you’ who knows what officers who think this way will do to you though.

Please tell me that some hotshot lawyer somewhere is going to challenge this.