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Filming interactions with police: Know your rights

| Mar 11, 2017 | Criminal Defense |

Most of us assume that police are required to tell the truth regarding matters of law. It stands to reason that someone hired to enforce laws should be forthcoming about which behaviors are legal or illegal. Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works.

An attorney in North Carolina was in the news recently due to an incident in which he filmed a police officer who pulled him over. Because the man knew the law and knew his rights, he continued to film the incident after the police officer incorrectly (or falsely) told him that recording police was illegal.

According to news sources, the man is an attorney but moonlights as an Uber driver. After dropping off a passenger, he was pulled over by an officer and told that he had just given someone a ride to a “known drug house.” The officer was skeptical that the man was driving for Uber and didn’t know the passenger.

When the officer noticed that he was recording, he made the untrue statement that filming police was illegal and threatened to take the man to jail. Was this a lie or did the officer truly not know the law? In either case, it is cause for concern.

Thankfully, the man knew better and respectfully refused to comply. There was no arrest made, and the police department followed up with the man to confirm that he did not do anything wrong.

But the attorney nonetheless released the video to news agencies to make a larger point: We all need to know our rights when interacting with police. Not everything police ask us to do is mandatory, but an officer doesn’t necessarily need to disclose that distinction.

By understanding your rights, you can help protect yourself personally and legally during encounters with police. And if you are detained or arrested, please contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

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