Whether we use them or not, many people have a camera on their phone and at the ready. Depending on the circumstances, those that do elect to use them to record police actions in public can be protected by the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, which includes a right to record matters of public interest. See King v. City of Indianapolis, (S.D. Ind. Cause No. 1:11-cv-1727 August 29, 2013). The interests are fundamental and concern the freedom to discuss publically and truthfully all matters of public concern without previous restraint or fear of subsequent punishment. Id.
Despites those rights and the clear mandate about what the First Amendment protects, some police officers are very often unwilling and confrontational actors. In fact, officers threaten to take cell phones all the time so that individuals will just go away. Id. Again, depending on the circumstances, such a threat or the seizure of property can equate to a constitutional violation.
With the advancement of technology and people’s comfort level with the use of their phones, this issue will no doubt continue and likely increase. If you believe your First Amendment or other constitutional rights have been violated, contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP today at 1-800 NOT GUILTY or (317) 857-0160.