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  • Coastal South Law

Can You Record Your Police Interaction?

In today's digital age, recording police interactions has become common among citizens seeking to protect their rights and ensure accountability. However, the legality of such recordings varies from state to state. In North Carolina, individuals have the right to record police officers in public places, including during traffic stops, as supported by the landmark case Glik v. Cunniffe.

The First Amendment and the Right to Record Police

Under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, individuals have the right to freedom of speech, which includes the right to gather and disseminate information. Recording police officers in public places has been recognized as a form of protected speech, as it contributes to the public's understanding of law enforcement activities and holds officers accountable for their actions.

Glik v. Cunniffe: Setting Precedent

The case of Glik v. Cunniffe, decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in 2011, established a significant precedent regarding the right to record police officers. In this case, Glik, a Massachusetts citizen, was arrested for using his cell phone to record police officers making an arrest in a public park. Glik sued the officers, arguing that his arrest violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights.

The court ruled in favor of Glik, stating that recording police officers in public places is a constitutionally protected activity. The court emphasized that the right to record police is essential to promote the accountability of law enforcement officials and the government as a whole. Although this case took place in the First Circuit, its principles and reasoning have been influential in other jurisdictions, including North Carolina.

Recording Police During Traffic Stops

In North Carolina, individuals have the right to record police officers during traffic stops. As long as you are in a public place, such as a sidewalk or a parking lot, you are within your rights to document the encounter. However, it is important to exercise caution and not interfere with the officers' duties or obstruct their actions while recording.

Recording police officers in public places, such as parks, streets, or government buildings, is generally permissible in North Carolina. These areas are considered public forums where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Utilizing Recorded Interactions for Defense

Recording your interactions with the police can serve as invaluable evidence to support your defense in a legal case. By capturing audio or video evidence of the encounter, you can establish the facts accurately and provide a record that may contradict false accusations of misconduct claims made by the officers involved.

The Coastal Law Firm

The right to record police interactions in North Carolina is protected by the First Amendment. The case of Glik v. Cunniffe serves as a landmark decision affirming this right, emphasizing the importance of accountability and transparency in law enforcement. Recording police encounters, particularly in public places and during traffic stops, can provide crucial evidence to support a defense in legal proceedings. It is vital to exercise this right responsibly, respecting the boundaries and duties of law enforcement officers.

If you or a loved one has a criminal matter you need assistance with, contact the Coastal Law Firm in Southeastern North Carolina. Contact us now for comprehensive and non-judgmental consultation.


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