Video and the Law
Videotaping or wiretapping laws vary from state to state. The rules in Florida are fairly broad, however there are some nuances to be aware of. You can film law enforcement officers, but knowing what is permitted by law will make all the difference and help you avoid civil and criminal prosecution.
If a law enforcement officer is performing his or her duties in a public place you can film the officer. They or anyone else who is in range of the camera has no expectation of privacy when out in public. The Eleventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, has ruled that the First Amendment applies in these situations. You have a right to record public officials on public property and to share what you film as you see fit.
If your camera or recording device captures sound, not just video, then the rules change. Florida is one of twelve states that is a two-party consent state when it comes to audio recordings. So, if you capture audio when you are recording, law enforcement officers must be aware of and give their consent to the filming. It is probably not a great idea to approach the scene and interrupt them for the purpose of gaining their consent, and it's not likely that they would give it to you under the circumstances. If your filming interferes with the officer's actions, you could be arrested and charged with resting an officer without violence in violation of Florida State Statue 843.02.
In recent years, police abuses have been uncovered by citizens who film the police. If you decide to film the police, be respectful, and stay out of the way so that your filming doesn't interfere.
Do you have a legal question? Call Avallone Law P.A. today at 386-682-9235 for your free consultation.