Is it illegal to film police officers performing their duties in a public place? 6 Answers as of June 27, 2013

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Entertainment Law Partners
Entertainment Law Partners | Tifanie Jodeh
Generally if public officers are in a public area and it is considered news worthy and in the public interest, you can film them (within reason).
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/27/2013
Abts Law, LLC
Abts Law, LLC | Matthew Abts
No. You can record people in public places. However, if your presence increases the danger of a situation or to another person, a police officer can have you leave. If a police officer confiscates your phone, you may have a legal issue. This is currently a contentious area of law and several cases against police departments are on-going. Just keep Googling for the latest! If your phone is taken, please do see a civil rights attorney immediately.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 10/2/2012
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
No, as long as they are performing the duties they were hired to do and the place is indeed public.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 10/1/2012
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
It is not illegal to film a police officer in a public place, but you might get beaten or arrested since the police do not like being video taped or interfered with in any way.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/1/2012
Lawyer for Indie Media
Lawyer for Indie Media | Sue Basko
Illinois law on this is unique. In Illinois, it is legal to film/ video the police performing their duties in a public place. However, Illinois has an unusual law still on the books, although the law has been ruled unconstitutional by one Judge and that ruling may be followed by other judges. This is the Illinois Eavesdropping law, that makes it illegal to record AUDIO of a police officer performing duties without getting his or her permission. So, it is always legal to record the VIDEO portion, but it is questionable whether it is legal to record the AUDIO portion. This law states:


"720 ILCS5/14-4 (b) The eavesdropping of an oral conversation or an electronic communication between any law enforcement officer, State's Attorney, Assistant State's Attorney, the Attorney General, Assistant Attorney General, or a judge, while in the performance of his or her official duties, if not authorized by this Article or proper court order, is a Class 1 felony."


The law has been deemed unconstitutional by at least one judge , but is still on the law books. Therefore, you might be arrested, especially outside of Chicago or in downstate Illinois. If this happens, you should get a Free Speech legal group to assist you.

Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 10/1/2012
    Lawyer for Independent Media
    Lawyer for Independent Media | Sue Basko
    CALIFORNIA: It is LEGAL to film / video police performing their duties in a public place. Police often make people move back. Police sometimes try to make people move back farther than really seems needed for safety. You have the right to film/ video, so carry that cell phone camera, and whenever you see something going on, turn it on and video.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/1/2012
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