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Is It Illegal to Record the Police?

Is It Illegal to Record the Police?

Since cameras were put in phones, footage of police arrests, traffic stops, protest suppression, and other acts have featured heavily in news stories. But is it legal to record a police officer? Keep reading to find out.


If you notice an officer speaking with a person on the street and the conversation becomes agitated, you may pull out your phone and begin recording. In many cases, a video taken by a bystander can be extremely helpful to either prove or disprove accusations of police brutality.

Motivations to record can be important. Whether you are recording out of genuine concern or maliciousness can influence how your footage is received.

The First Amendment

The First Amendment to the constitution protects free speech and the expression of it. In the modern age, this right extends to recording images, audio, or visuals. A key point to note about the First Amendment is that it also includes the right to discuss the government and the protection of freedom of the press and public access.

There is some debate regarding the application of First Amendment rights to recorded events sold to news outlets. However, in general, the Constitution does protect recording the police.

Exceptions to the Rule

While the First Amendment does protect free speech and recording, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, if while recording, you interfere with an officer’s ability to complete their job requirements. Uniformed officers may also ask citizens to stop recording. Obstruction of an officer may occur if you stand too close while they are attempting to arrest another person.

Wiretapping Laws

Another limitation to the First Amendment lies with state wiretapping laws. Wiretapping is loosely defined as secretly recording a conversation. In Nevada, it is illegal to record audio without at least one person’s consent.


So, is it illegal to record a police officer? No. It is not illegal to record a police officer, but it is important to note that interfering with official police business or attempt to secretly record an officer without their knowledge.

If you have been accused of wiretapping or unlawfully recording an officer, The Draskovich Law Group can help. Our qualified attorneys can investigate your case and build a defense on your behalf.

Contact The Draskovich Law Group to learn more.


Contact The Draskovich Law Group

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