Is it legal to film police officers while they are on duty? - Criminal Law Questions and Answers- LawQA.com

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Is it legal to film police officers while they are on duty?

Is it legal to video and audio record police when encountered by them or in the public while they are performing their duties? If so, where can you do so and be completely protected? Are they allowed to ask for ID if you are recording or just walking down the street minding your own business?

Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
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If you haven't gotten answers to these questions yet: yes, yes and no. Some police do not like their actions videoed but that does not give them the right to prevent it. Unless you are interfering with their duties in some way or are trespassing or on property where you do not have a right to be, your activities are illegal and it is unlawful for the police to do anything about it.

Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/29/2012

Answer By Matthew McHenry
Levine & McHenry LLC
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In Oregon, yes, it is legal, so long as the officers are aware that they are being recorded (i.e., make it obvious, don't do it surreptitiously).

Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 11/1/2011

Answer By Edward J. Blum
Law Office of Edward J. Blum
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In California you are allowed to film/video/audiotape police officers in their official duty as long as you are in public and don't interfere with the police's duty. In the 1960's the Black Panthers would follow the police and record their interactions with the community on 8mm handheld cameras. They knew their rights and pushed them to the limits. The police can ask for identification. If they do, you can refuse to give it to them. They have to have reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime to go any further.

Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/31/2011

Answer By Maury Beaulier
Beaulier Law Office
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Yes. So long as you are filming from a legally accessible area and are not interfering with the officers in the course of their duties, there is no restriction on being able to film them.

Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 10/31/2011

Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
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Technically it is legal unless it is interfering with an investigation. Police are not allowed to stop a suspect unless the have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity has occurred or occurring.

Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 10/31/2011

Answer By Jules Fiani
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
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Yes.

Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/31/2011

Answer By Steve Freeborn
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
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You can video, as long as you are not "harassing" the officers or some how interfering with their performing their duties, and you are not doing so for the sole purpose of trying to "create a problem". What is your motive for doing so? As far as asking for your ID if you are just walking down the street, the answer, based upon those facts alone, is "No the officer can't"; however, you don't say what your age is, what time of the day or night the stop was, where the stop was (high crime area), or if you are in an area where a crime has just been committed, or whether you are in an area where you should not be or have no right to be, or whether or not you have a lengthy criminal history that makes you a "person of interest". In any of these instances, "yes", an officer can stop you and ask you fro your ID.

Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 10/31/2011

Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
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It depends on many factors but generaly you can record if the police are in public and generally the police can under the common law right to inquire ask for ID an what you are doing.

Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/31/2011

Law Office of Richard Williams
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I do not believe it would be illegal to take pictures or film police while they are doing their duties, unless you interfere with them doing their duties. If you do so, you can be arrested. If you are filming the police, they have a right to secure your name, and if your film contains information that may be needed in Court, they can secure your film and possibly your equipment. Additionally, you could be subjecting yourself to come to court with a subpoena and you will be compelled to testify at the trial of the matter that you videotaped or took pictures of.

Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 10/30/2011

Answer By Thomas J. Tomko
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
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I suppose that in general, anyone in public could be filmed. Its the purpose of the filming where there may be difficulties. There can be all sorts of problems with publishing such filming. Police officers can investigate activity that is suspicious. Stop and identify cases have a long history, and there are many rules. Your question seems quite general and not easily answered in a few short words. If you have more details, perhaps a more focused answer could be provided. I hope that this was helpful.

Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/30/2011

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