Can I Record the Police?

Maverick Ray Law
April 26, 2022

Your Right to Take Photos or Video of Police in Texas

It is your right to take pictures and videos on public property, but what about when there is police activity? Do you have the right to film police during an arrest? Can the police confiscate your phone or camera? All of these are valid and important questions. It is vital that you know and exercise your rights during any interaction with law enforcement.

At Maverick Ray & Associates, we fight for the people. We are dedicated, aggressive criminal defense attorneys that know what it takes to win cases. Our priority is proving our clients’ innocence and protecting their freedom. If you have been arrested for a crime in Houston or throughout Texas, contact our office at (281) 672-8029 for a free consultation.

Do I Have the Right to Record the Police?

Under most circumstances, it is legal for you to record the police. There are limited exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, you are within your constitutional rights to photograph or video police activity on public property. Prior case law establishes that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy on public property; therefore, you have the right to record (photograph or video) anything that is in plain view.

If you are arrested for filming the police, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You may have been unlawfully arrested if you were merely exercising your right to take photos or videos in a public place.

When Is It Illegal to Film Police?

It is considered a violation of state law to interfere with a law enforcement officer who is performing their duties. For that reason, if your filming interferes with police business, you may be asked to step back from the scene.

An officer, however, cannot ask you to stop filming and cannot confiscate your phone or recording device without a warrant. If you do not step back and continue to interfere with police operations, you may be arrested and charged with a violation of Texas Penal Code section 38.15.

It is also illegal to record police or anyone else if it violates state or federal wiretapping laws or any other law such as trespassing. Finally, it may be considered unlawful to film police while on private property without the permission of the property owner.

What to Do If You Are Stopped from Recording the Police

Unless you are obstructing or interfering with police activity, you are likely within your rights to be filming on public property. If you are told by a law enforcement officer that you are interfering with their work, you should take a step back. Remember, the officer cannot take your recording device without a warrant. It is also illegal for them to attempt to delete or edit any photos or videos that you have taken.

If you are arrested for recording the police, remain calm. Do not attempt to resist arrest or get into a physical altercation. You may ask the officer why you are being detained and if you are free to leave. If you remain detained and are issued a citation, contact our office to discuss your legal options.

Protect Your Rights - Contact Maverick Ray & Associates Today!

The most important thing to remember if you are arrested for filming the police is that you have rights. At Maverick Ray & Associates, we are focused on protecting the rights of the people. Contact our office today at (281) 672-8029 to discuss your case with an attorney. All consultations are free and confidential.