Can You Record the Police?

The First Amendment gives private citizens the right to record law enforcement officers while exercising their duties. But this right is not applicable to all situations. Indiana state laws and regulations may lead to an arrest if you record the police in some circumstances.

If you were arrested while trying to record police officers, contact an experienced Evansville criminal defense lawyer. For now, let’s explain the most important facts related to your right to record police officers.

New Indiana Law Restricts the Right to Record the Police

House Bill 1186 determines that it is a Class C misdemeanor to approach within 25 feet of a police officer, after the officer ordered the person to stop. Proponents of the new law justified this 25-feet radius as necessary to allow law enforcement officers to intervene without intrusion or obstruction from anyone.

So far, the law was attacked in court by several civil rights and media associations. In one lawsuit, the judge dismissed the challenge, while another is still pending. For now, the law remains in force and anyone approaching police officers with any purpose, including recording them, may be charged with misdemeanor.

Do Not Point Your Camera as a Gun

One of the most important things to remember when recording law enforcement officers is not to appear threatening. Police interventions may happen at night, or in poorly lit environments. These actions are often performed as quickly as possible, to limit injuries to others.

Officers will react quickly to anything that appears threatening. To reduce the risk of being perceived as a threat, move slowly and do not point your camera as if it were a gun. Even if it is a mobile phone, a police officer may claim that the item you were pointing at them resembled a deadly weapon.

Do Not Use Hidden Recording Devices

The First Amendment protects your right to openly record law enforcement officers. This means that the recording device must be visible, and the officers are aware that you are recording them.

If the police have probable cause to frisk you and they discover a hidden camera, you may face criminal charges.

Indiana passed a law restricting the right to film the police

Assert Your Right to Record the Police

If a police officer approaches you telling you to stop recording them, affirm your constitutional right in a calm and courteous manner. Make sure you are not interfering with the officer’s actions and say it clearly, so that your voice can be heard on the recording.

If you face any charges, your own recording will be valuable evidence in your favor. This is why you must make sure that you store the recording carefully, preferably using a cloud storage service. Do not make any changes to it, as it may be interpreted as tampering with evidence. And remember to contact an experienced Evansville criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after being charged for the action of recording the police.

Do Not Resist Arrest

Despite your attempts to avoid intruding or obstructing the police officers, they may still arrest you while you are recording them. At this point, you won’t do yourself any favors if you attempt to resist arrest or encourage others to prevent police officers from arresting you.

Remain calm and cooperative. Surrender the recording device upon request. You should anticipate the fact that the police may try to destroy your recording, so enable auto-saving to a password protected cloud storage facility.

Contact a Skilled Evansville Criminal Defense Lawyer!

If the police arrest you for recording them, do not take the charge lightly. You may be convicted, even if your own recording proves that you were not interfering with the officers’ actions. You will need a skilled Evansville criminal defense lawyer  to build your defense and persuade the judge that you were only exercising your rights, and not breaking the law.

Contact Verdelski Miller as soon as possible after being charged to schedule a free case evaluation at 812-247-6453!

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