May 19, 2016
Is Home Security Footage Admissible In Court?
If you have any questions about home security or automation that you’d like to ask, you can always send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be more than happy to answer them!
Cassandra, a wife, professional and mother of 3 wrote in to us with a question that she feels will help her decide whether or not a security system would have any use in her family’s home protection plan.
I’m on the fence when it comes to deciding whether or not a home security camera would be a good fit for my family. The main thing that will drive my decision is knowing whether or not the footage a camera captures is admissible in court. Are you able to help?
Hi Cassandra, security camera footage can be used in court so long as it passes some basic criteria. The criteria you need to meet varies from country to country, state to state, so please take the below as a general guideline as opposed to actual legal advice. You’d need to speak with a law enforcement professional in your area to know for sure what is or isn’t admissible in your local court.
Some possible criteria you’d have to meet include:
1. Authenticity: This means the footage must be a true reflection of the events that you claim transpired. It can’t be a reenacted scene, edited to include arrows pointing to the “jerk” that broke into your home, there can’t be any background notes on how he took your favourite pair of Jordan’s, you can’t trim down the video to only show him taking your stuff, etc.
2. Originality: It’s a great idea to keep a backup copy of the footage incase any freak accident happens that wipes out your original, but make sure that you don’t purposely erase your original footage thinking your backup files are enough. The defence attorney has a chance of getting your footage thrown out on the grounds that you failed to provide a reasonable enough excuse for not having an original copy of the surveillance tape.
3. Reasonable expectation of privacy: Even though it sounds crazy that a burglar may have privacy rights in a home that they illegally broke into without the owner’s permission, but depending on where you live, a defence lawyer could argue that their client expected you to have the decency to allow them to privately rob you. That’s why it may be a good idea to post a sticker letting potential thieves know that your space is being monitored by security cameras. These typically come with the system you buy.
4. Relevance: Of course, you may also have to prove that the footage is relevant to your case and that it is a really important part of your argument.
Even though a defence attorney will most likely make presenting your security footage an uphill battle, it is one worth fighting and you do stand a chance of winning. Even if you don’t, your security system can at least help you identify your burglar, recognize what was stolen (for insurance purposes), give you peace of mind, and help you pinpoint which direction they left in so that police can purse them, among other benefits.
Don’t let admissibility be the sole reason you decide whether or not you invest in true home security, as it has a lot more to offer.
Hope this helps!