Civilian recordings of interactions with law enforcement have been all over the news lately. Many citizens have come to the conclusion that using a cell phone to record a traffic stop or other police confrontation is the only way to ensure that their rights are protected and that an officer does not overstep legal boundaries.
So what are your rights when it comes to recording a traffic stop? Both State and Federal law uphold a citizens First Amendment right to openly record police officers who are performing their duties in a public place, as long as the recording does not interfere with the performance of the officer's duties. If you choose to record your interaction with the police, always do so in a neutral and respectful manner. Shoving your phone in an officer's face could be deemed an interference with official duties that could get you arrested.
In addition to the right to record, the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments protect citizens from having their recording illegally seized and destroyed. If an officer asks you to stop recording, place your phone on your dashboard or center console without turning off the recording. If your phone is confiscated, you may have an argument that the officer violated your Constitutional rights. In addition, it is a criminal offense under Ohio Rev. Code §2921.45 for a public servant to interfere with or deprive any person of a constitutional or statutory right.
While it is important to understand your rights when it comes to police confrontations, it is also important to remain safe. Ultimately, you should understand that enforcing your constitutional rights should always be done in a polite, respectful and non threatening manner. When an officer crosses the line, your remedy should be pursued in a court of law, not on the side of the road.
Attorney Jessica Fallon represents clients in all types of criminal, OVI, and traffic cases in Ohio. If you've been arrested, contact The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. to learn about your defense options.