We are going to be doing a series of videos in which we talk about changes to the law that took place January 1st, 2016.
In this video we are going to talk about a change to Penal Code section 148 and Penal Code section 69. Those are the laws that deal with resisting arrest or resisting an executive officer. And this law change affects the ability to film the police from a public place.
Don’t Interfere with a Police Investigation
Now really, in the end, this probably isn’t a change to what the law meant. It’s just an explicit clarification for the purposes of everyone to understand that as long as you don’t otherwise interfere with an ongoing police investigation, if you don’t break into a crime scene, if you don’t get in the way of oncoming police vehicles, if you don’t do that sort of thing, it is always lawful to film the police from a public place.
As long as you’re in a public place or private place you have lawful access to, you are allowed to film the police. They cannot arrest you just for the act of filming them.
This is obviously a hot news topic. There have been a lot of videos which have come out in the aftermath of police shootings or police brutality situations that have really changed the way people think about their relationship with the police and the way police use force in public.
Videotaping has become an essential tool for helping make sure that the police are acting ethically at all times, but I can tell you it’s not just a news topic. I myself have represented multiple people who were accused of one kind of wrongdoing or another by the police who were then exonerated because some bystander had the wherewithal and the presence of mind to get their cell phone out and take a video, even if the video wasn’t all the way complete.
This law makes it clear that you are not only allowed to do that, you’re almost encouraged to do that.
Here is more detail about some of the ways that you can help ensure the public safety by filming police when you see something suspicious going on. And I’m encouraging you to do that because Penal Code section 148 and Penal Code section 69 make it clear that as long as you’re not otherwise interfering, it is absolutely your right to film the police, and I encourage you to do so.
In the meantime if you feel like you may have been the victim of police misconduct, or you know someone it was, or perhaps you were witness to police misconduct, I encourage you to please give our office a call. We offer free consultations, and we’ll be happy to see what we can do to help.