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Conway Criminal Law Blog

Can I Record the Police in South Carolina?

It used to be that the police had considerably more credibility than the people they arrested because it was generally the officer’s word against the accused. When smartphones and police body cams became a regular part of the picture, however, this began to change somewhat. The fact is that you generally do have the right to record the police – as long as you do so within specific limitations and keep in mind that there are a lot of gray areas involved. Further, if you find yourself facing a criminal charge, don’t wait to consult with an experienced Marion, South Carolina, criminal defense attorney.

Recording Police Officers in Public

South Carolina employs a one-party consent rule, which means that to record someone legally, at least one of the parties must consent, and one party can be the person doing the recording. However, the one-party consent does mean that the person consenting MUST be present during the recording – one cannot simply leave a recording device operating while he or she is not present. This applies when you want to record the police in the course of their work, but there are regulations to consider.

The Recording Must Be Done in a Public Setting

It is well within your rights to record the police going about their business in public, such as at any of the following locations:

Recording the police in a private location, such as someone’s home, however, is a different matter – unless the home is your own. To record the police in a private location, you would need the consent of the officer or the homeowner, which is unlikely to be forthcoming.

You Must Do Your Recording Safely

While you have the right to record the police, you don’t have the right to interfere with their work or to create a safety risk. Jumping into traffic to get a better shot, for example, puts you and others on the road at greater risk of being injured. Further, recording furtively – rather than with your phone or recording device out in front of you and in open view – may cause the police to suspect you of harboring a weapon or of posing some other risk, which can jeopardize your own safety.

When it comes to recording the police, keep all the following in mind:

It’s also important to note that courts recently upheld a person’s right to livestream the police. Although some questions remain unanswered regarding the decision as sending your recording out into the world in real-time can potentially tip off suspects and interfere with official police business. The police have a job to do that includes gathering evidence and keeping everyone safe in the process, and your right to record them doing their job doesn’t extend to infringing on their efforts.  

An Experienced Marion, South Carolina, Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

The seasoned South Carolina criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Brad C. Richardson – proudly serving Marion – dedicate their impressive practice to skillfully defending the rights of valued clients like you. The outcome of your case is important, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call 843-488-4321 for more information today.