Texas Aim Attorney, Bill Smith tells is like it is.
Can a citizen record police publicly performing their duties?
It is now settled law in the U.S. that citizens CAN photograph or video record police officers publicly performing their duties. In Glik v. Cuniffe, et al, 655 F3d n78, 82-83 (1st Cir. 2011).
Just because you can doesn't mean there won't be reprisals from the police if you do record. There are now more cell phones in use in the United States than there are people! Since most of the newer cell phones have high resolution cameras and video recording capability, there are more and more videos of improper police conduct being posted on the internet and YouTube. More and more officers have been terminated or prosecuted due to their conduct while on duty. Thus, just because you can record police officers performing their duties doesn't mean you won't be hassled or arrested for doing so. One writer (Steve Silverman) has proposed 7 Rules for Recording Police. Here is a summary of those rules. Click here for the full article
Privacy and Your Cell Phone
Can law enforcement access the information and data stored on your cell phone? Everyone has a cell phone. It is predicted that by the end of 2013 there will be more active cell phones in-use than there are people on the planet-7.3 billion. They have evolved from bulky bags to sleek and can fit in the palm of your hand. They are capable of taking high resolution photos, videos, playing movies, playing games, storing personal data and financial information, contact information for friends and business, as well as surfing the internet. The question becomes whether you have an expectation of privacy for the information and data stored on your phone. A recent Texas case held that people in Texas have an expectation of privacy in the information and data stored on your phone. Click here for the full article.
Warrant to Draw Blood when Stopped for DUI
A recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion considered the Constitution's requirement for a search warrant when stopping someone for DUI and taking a blood sample. In Missouri v. Neely, 133 S. Ct. 1552 (2013), the Defendant was arrested for DUI and refused a Breathalyzer test. The Highway Patrolman took the Defendant to a hospital for blood testing. The Defendant refused a blood test but the officer directed a lab technician to take the sample. The officer did not attempt to obtain a search warrant before the sample was taken believing that he didn't need one. The Defendant asked the trial court to throw out the results of the blood sample since the Highway Patrolman did not obtain a warrant. The prosecution relied on an exception to the search warrant requirement-exigent circumstances. Exigent circumstances are defined as an unusual and time-sensitive circumstance that justifies conduct that might not be permissible or lawful in other circumstances. Some examples include acting without a warrant due to mortal danger to a young child or protecting evidence or property from imminent destruction. The State argued that with the passage of time, there is a natural metabolization of alcohol in the bloodstream thereby acting as a destruction of evidence. Click here for the full article.