What To Know About Doorbell Cameras And Your Legal Rights In A Criminal Case
Doorbell camera services have exploded in popularity in recent years, with homeowners everywhere signing up for affordable home security systems. Entryways of millions of homes are now equipped with 24/7 surveillance cameras. These systems, accessible through apps and personal accounts, log almost all movement and activity in their range of view.
Home camera systems offer peace of mind to homeowners, and they are also frequently used by law enforcement to collect evidence and investigate cases. Over 2,000 police departments nationwide have joined Amazon’s Ring network – which allows departments to request Ring data for use in their investigations. Homeowners themselves can allow police to view security content through the Neighbors app.
Even if a device owner denies a police request to review their footage, law enforcement will then use subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders to obtain data contained within the home surveillance system.
Can Doorbell Camera Footage Be Used in Court?
Home security cameras are an emerging technology and the law is not fully settled in Texas or nationwide regarding the use of this footage in a criminal trial. One issue concerns privacy and a defendant’s Constitutional protections under the Fourth Amendment from unreasonable searches and seizures.
If a camera caught the suspect doing something where they had a reasonable expectation of privacy – such as their own backyard – footage could be ruled inadmissible. Some doorbell camera footage could be seen as an unauthorized warrantless search in certain situations. For example, a person has a Constitutional right to privacy within their own homes and the surrounding area known as the “curtilage”.
When a person is in a public area, at a business, or on somebody else’s property, they lose their expectation of privacy and actions caught on camera are more likely to be allowed at trial.
A defendant will need to question how police obtained the camera footage in question, and whether they did so without violating a defendant’s Constitutional rights. Improperly obtained footage can potentially be suppressed and kept out of a criminal trial.
Does a Defendant Have a Chance if The Police Have Camera Footage?
If all or some of a suspect’s actions were caught on a doorbell camera or private security camera, not all hope is lost. A skilled criminal defense attorney will review the footage and determine the best strategy under the circumstances. In some situations, doorbell camera footage can be challenged or even stricken from use at trial. All of these situations are highly fact-specific and will vary from case to case. Even if the camera footage was obtained in a Constitutionally valid manner, it may have other flaws such as lack of time & date stamps to authenticate the footage.
If You Have Questions About Camera Footage and Your Criminal Case, Contact Our Pearland, Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Today
With the number of public and private security cameras all over, it can feel like we are always under surveillance. If you are charged with any type of crime and law enforcement used a person’s private doorbell camera data as part of their investigation, you still have options. At Keith B. French Law, our Pearland criminal lawyers will review any evidence the prosecution is attempting to use against you – including doorbell camera footage. To learn more about your legal rights, contact the offices of Keith B. French Law, PLLC online or call 832-243-6153 today.