Footage of crimes captured by security cameras may help prove people innocent of committing the offenses, and thus, prevent false convictions. Business owners, homeowners, and others install security cameras to deter criminal activity. With the potential for having their actions captured on camera, people may think twice about engaging in illegal activities in the area.
Security Cameras as Silent Witnesses
Security cameras may capture events and the recorded videos show exactly what transpired. The footage from such cameras may provide invaluable evidence for law enforcement as they look for perpetrators of crimes. For the wrongly accused, security camera footage may help prove at trial that they were not in the area or that they did not commit the offense they stand charged with.
Closed-circuit television or security camera footage does not have the same potential for contamination that eyewitness testimony has. For instance, people’s biases, the stress of the situation, or the presence of a weapon may skew their recollections of events. Further, how law enforcement interviews them or the procedures used for suspect identifications may influence the way in which people recall events they witness. Cameras, however, simply record the events and how they occur, allowing people to go back and watch them just as they happened.
The Legalities of Video Surveillance
Even if installed on private property, laws exist for the use of CCTV and security cameras. State law prohibits secretly installing or using video recording devices in areas where people have reasonable expectations of privacy. For example, this may include changing rooms, restrooms, and locker rooms. Setting up cameras in such areas, then, may result in civil violations of people’s privacy.
Admissibility of Security Camera Footage
With few exceptions, the court may allow defendants to submit security camera footage as evidence at trial. Such footage must be legally recorded and obtained for the court to admit it. For example, a security camera installed in a public restroom captures an assault. In such an area, those involved may reasonably expect they will not be watched or otherwise surveilled. Therefore, the court may find the footage was illegally recorded and, as a result, disallow it or throw it out as evidence.
Part of defending against erroneous criminal charges may involve looking for all possible evidence, including security camera footage, to support people’s claims of innocence.