Can Home Security Cameras Be Used in Court?

Sep 28, 2018

The criteria for whether home security camera footage is admissible in court varies from state to state. Video surveillance laws are usually interpreted through the state’s wiretapping statutes. Wiretapping means connecting a concealed listening or recording device to a communications circuit. 

CCTV Video Laws

You should talk to a law enforcement professional in your area to know for sure what is admissible in your local court, but here are some general guidelines about criteria that law enforcement will take into consideration regarding your security camera video:


1.    Is the footage watermarked?

A digital watermark is undetectable to the human eye, but it can be detected by computers, DVD recorders, digital cameras or other devices with the correct software. A digital watermark identifies the video or audio file’s copyright information. Digital watermarks cannot be removed or altered, which means it is a way for law enforcement to verify that the surveillance camera video is authentic and has not been tampered with. Most manufacturers of digital video recording devices have watermark settings already placed in their equipment, but if not, it can be added for an additional fee. 
 

2.    Is the video timestamped?

A time and date stamp must be part of the digital watermark and must match up with the chain of events that have been reported to law enforcement. Make sure you adjust the manufacturer settings on the camera to match your local time zone when you install the camera and that it is appropriately adjusted for daylight savings time. 
 

3.    Is the video clear?

One of the reasons digital security cameras have increased in popularity over the traditional analog video is because it offers the ability to record in extremely high resolution, allowing for the camera to perform functions like facial recognition, license plate recognition and the ability to digitally zoom distance of more than 100 feet. A video that is going to be used in court must be bright enough to identify the person accused of committing the crime appropriately. Remember, it’s not only the camera that impacts the quality of the video. Proper lighting, especially for outdoor video recording, is vital for ensuring video clarity. 

In addition to these critical factors, you need to know the law in your area about where electronic monitoring devices can be placed, particularly if you are a business owner. Check out our blog, Are CCTV Cameras Illegal in the Workplace, for more information, and be sure to double-check with local law enforcement officials in your neck of the woods. 


 

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