In: Criminal Defense

Can I Film a Police Officer If I am Pulled Over?

The police cannot tell or ask you to stop filming or recording them – period. For example, if you’re across the road recording the police while they’re going about their public duties, they’re subject to filming, and there is nothing that they can lawfully do to stop you. However, all constitutional rights have their limits. Likewise, filming during traffic stops can be risky for everyone involved.

Be Extremely Careful When Filming The Police During a Traffic Stop

If you don’t have a dashcam and you may need to take out your mobile phone to film the police when you get pulled over, the police might misinterpret your reaching for the phone as reaching for a weapon, which could quickly escalate the situation. Likewise, you can still be prosecuted when you interfere with police functions or disobey a legal order. Rogue officers may also just grab your phone and delete the recording.

You can, however, secretly film or record the police during a traffic stop, but only if you are a hundred percent sure that it will not escalate the situation. If you’re using an iPhone, you’re in luck. You can download the Siri shortcut for free. Once installed, you can simply say, “Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over.”

Siri will then dim the screen, turn off apps in use, open the front-facing camera, and begin recording. It is perfectly legal and hands-free, which lets you exercise your legal rights without escalating the already tense situation.

Crucial Considerations When Filming The Police

With filming, there’s a crucial legal distinction between a video footage’s audio portion and visual photographic footage, which are regulated by some states under wiretapping laws. In general, these laws are intended to uphold the vital privacy-protecting objective of banning audio bugging of all private conversations. But in almost all cases, including during traffic stops, recording audio conversations with the police is perfectly legal.

Likewise, in situations where you’re just an observer, you are free to film the police interaction if they happen in public settings because there’s no expectation or need for privacy. Additionally, in Texas, where recording is legal if just one party consents to the recording (meaning you don’t need consent from the other party), you can record personal interactions with the police without being in violation of wiretapping laws.

Consult with a Skilled Denton, TX, Criminal Defense Attorney Now

If you believe that the police have violated your legal right to film or record them, you may have a potential claim against the officer, the department, or some other relevant entity. Maybe you were arrested unlawfully for filming the police, or your recordings or recording device were unlawfully seized. Additionally, you may have other grounds for a claim, either based on state laws or arising from something the police did while interfering with your legal right to film them.

To learn more about your criminal rights if you were arrested, contact the Law Office of Brent D. Bowen, PLLC, and arrange a free case consultation with our Denton, TX, criminal defense attorney by sending an online message or calling 940-222-2488.