Since most individuals have a cell phone with them at all times, it is no surprise that some individuals have made a habit of trying to record their encounters with police, with varying success. Unfortunately, some police officers have made the news when they have ordered individuals to stop recording or photographing them, or when they otherwise have intervened to prevent individuals from doing so. As a result, many people may wonder if it is legal to record their encounters with police and if they will end up in trouble for doing so.
When you are in public, you generally have the right to photograph or record anyone or anything. On private property, however, the property owner has the right to set limits on what or whom you can photograph or record. If you disobey private property owners’ rules or directions about recording or photographing others, they can ask you to leave the property.
Generally, police cannot confiscate your cell phone or demand that you show them your pictures or videos, unless they have a search warrant that allows them to do so. If you are arrested, the right of police to view the contents of your cell phone are a bit more uncertain. There are no circumstances, however, under which police can delete or erase pictures or videos from your phone.
There are some legal distinctions between visual and audio recordings of your encounters with police. In Texas, though, audio recording police when you are speaking with them is not a violation of wiretapping laws, because audio recording conversations are legal, so long as one of the parties consents to the recording. Since you are a party to the conversation, then you can legally record the conversation. Plus, even if you are not a direct participant in the conversation, most state courts have held that police officers have no expectation of privacy in the statements that they make in public. As a result, it is legal to record encounters with police officers in public, even if they involve people other than yourself. The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 399-2311 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.