In: Criminal Defense

Are all Police Encounters Videotaped in Texas?

In recent years, the need for police officers to wear body cameras or have dash cams that video encounters with citizens has become more than clear. A handful of states - Colorado, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, and New Mexico - have mandated that all police officers wear body cameras to ensure that every police encounter is recorded. However, Texas has no such law in place yet, and many encounters with police throughout the state are not videoed.

Some cities and police agencies in Texas have adopted policies that promote or require the use of body cameras. These include Fort Worth, Austin, and Dallas, though there are not yet statewide requirements for cameras. This means that:

  • Not every police encounter is recorded.
  • Some cameras in place might not record the entire scene of the encounter.
  • Officers might turn off body cameras.
  • It is often up to other citizens to record encounters with police officers.

Your Right to Video the Police

Many important police encounters over the past decade relied on video footage from bystanders to show what happened. The highly-publicized police killing of George Floyd was videoed by a teenage girl watching the events unfold. Not only are these videos legal to shoot in most situations, but they can also be highly valuable for use in court if officer misconduct is alleged.

You have the constitutional right to take photos or videos of something happening in public, which includes police encounters. Many officers try to order people to stop taking videos, or they might threaten to arrest someone for taking a video, so it is important to stand up for your rights in this situation.

Keep the following in mind:

  • If you are lawfully in a public place, you can video anything in plain view.
  • If you are on private property, the owner of the property can limit you or give you permission to take videos.
  • Officers cannot demand to view your video or confiscate your phone without presenting a proper warrant.
  • Police cannot delete your phone videos or photos.
  • Police officers can only order someone to stop videoing when it would sincerely interfere with legitimate operations by law enforcement.

You can’t use videoing police encounters as an excuse to violate the law. For example, if you must trespass to video the police, you can still face penalties for doing so. Instead, stay calm, keep your distance as much as possible, and let the police know that you know your rights to take a video if they try to challenge you.

Don’t Wait to Call A Lewisville Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you were wrongfully arrested, experienced police brutality, or anything else went wrong, you should discuss the matter with a criminal defense attorney in Frisco and Lewisville. The right lawyer can determine whether there was any video footage that would prove that officers acted wrongfully and violated your rights. The Law Office of Brent D. Bowen, PLLC, is ready to help, so please contact us for more information.