Police Recording Laws in Richmond

Criminal Laws

Police officers in Richmond, Virginia are now issued cameras to wear on their body, called “body-worn cameras,” in an effort to reduce violence against police and against citizens. The city’s $340,000 contract for these body-worn cameras are powered by batteries and worn either on their eyeglasses or on their uniform.

In cases of questionable police action, video from these cameras can be used as evidence against the police. The cameras improve the quality of the evidence gathered against the police or against the suspects, and increases the trust citizens have for the police.

However, there are concerns that the recording of citizens may cross boundaries of privacy. Although the police must let people know they are being recorded, and the police officer must state his or her name, there are instances that may occur where private instances may be recorded. Because of this, any recordings that don’t lead to criminal charges will only be kept for 90 days. If charges are filed, the videos will be subject to the normal rules of evidence gathering.

The constitutional right to record the police with your smartphone is set in federal law as of July 2017, covering half of the states and 60 percent of the U.S. population. It ensures transparency and keeps the law enforcement accountable, and according to the First Amendment, which allows the recording of government officials in a public setting. Virginia law allows you to record the police if (1) if it is in public, and (2) the person doing the recording does not interfere with the police.

“As public servants, the police owe a level of fairness to suspects and transparency to their actions,” said Nicholas Braswell, Richmond criminal lawyer. “Knowing your rights regarding when you can film these incidents will lessen confusion and help ensure the safety of our citizens.”

If you are involved in a situation where your camera was confiscated or your privacy was compromised by the police, please call Nicholas Braswell at 202-600-9400 to discuss your situation.

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