Am I Allowed to Record the Police in California?

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Am I Allowed to Record the Police in California?

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Whether pulled over during a traffic stop and your dashboard camera records the interaction, or you notice a heated exchange with a citizen and law enforcement officer, knowing whether or not you are legally allowed to film the police is vital to understanding your rights. Unfortunately, many believe it is against the law to record the police and thus do not exercise their rights. As such, the following blog explores what you must know about these circumstances and how a Sacramento criminal defense lawyer can work to protect your rights in these instances.

Is It Legal to Record the Police in Sacramento?

In California, it is entirely legal to record police interactions. This is because it is protected under your First Amendment Constitutional Rights. Though this does not explicitly state that the right to record is protected, filming the police falls under the right to free speech and press.

However, it is critical to understand that filming the police is generally limited to when officers are in public view and performing their job duties.

Are There Any Instances Where This Is Illegal?

It’s important to understand that there are some circumstances where the police may be entitled to ask you to stop recording or to arrest you. Generally, this is only warranted in circumstances in which you are too close to the police while filming. This may interfere with law enforcement’s ability to make an arrest, warranting them to ask you to move back. If this occurs, you may be able to continue recording. However, if you continually impede their ability to make an arrest, they may charge you with obstruction of justice or interfering with a police officer.

Additionally, the California Penal Code states that you are prohibited from secretly filming a police officer. If you have a concealed camera, this can warrant a misdemeanor change. Additionally, audio recordings require both parties to consent to the recording.

What Should I Do if I’m Arrested for Filming the Police?

If a police officer does not like the fact they are being filmed, they may try to intimidate you by demanding to delete the recording off your device or unlawfully arresting you. Unless the police have a warrant, you do not have to hand over your device. Additionally, if you are facing arrest, it’s important to understand that you must not resist arrest. Unfortunately, doing so may bring legitimate charges against you. If you are placed under arrest, it’s imperative to remain calm, ask for an attorney, and invoke your right to remain silent.

When you’re in legal trouble, the Law Offices of Dale R. Gomes can assist during these challenging times. We understand that you have the Constitutional right to film the police, and our firm will do everything possible to represent you during these difficult times. Contact our firm today to discuss the details of your circumstances.