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Is it Illegal to Record Police Interactions in Oregon?

According to the Pew Research Center, 96% of Americans own a cellphone of some kind; 81% of which are smartphones with cameras, audio and video recording capabilities.

As is evident across the Internet, individuals use these smartphones to capture everything from vacation sunsets and pet photos to community outreach and mission-based projects.

There are also innumerable photos and videos circulating on social and traditional media outlets that have captured police interactions, as for some communities, these recordings play a integral part in uncovering and/or deterring police misconduct.

Often, these recordings are met by law enforcement officials with resentment. Police officers may view the recorded interaction as an attempt to diminish their authority or to frame them in a negative light.

At Mark C. Cogan, P.C., our criminal defense attorneys in Oregon, we want people to know, no matter the police opinion or response to being recorded by a civilian, the reality is, capturing audio, video, or still images in public spaces is a constitutional right, even when the images are those of police officers carrying out their duties.

You Have a First Amendment Right to Record Police Interactions in Public

It is a legal and protected right for you to record police interaction when it occurs in public.

The keywords here are, “in public.” You may not enter a police station and record the happenings inside. However, photos or videos captured by someone in a public space are permissible by our Oregon laws.

The other requirement for recording interactions with the police is that you may not interfere with their work by doing so. However, what you deem as interference and what a police officer may consider interference may be two different events.

When this is true, the police may unfairly threaten you with arrest for recording the interaction by identifying your behavior as disorderly conduct or obstruction of justice.

Can I Be Arrested for Recording Police Interactions in Oregon?

Unfortunately, although it is your First Amendment right to record police interactions in Oregon, threats of arrest by police officers for doing so are often followed by being detained.

If you are recording police interaction, whether it is yours or another person’s, and are warned by the police to stop, you may risk arrest while testing the boundaries of your rights.

Even if you feel you have been unfairly detained, stay calm and quiet.

Avoid walking or running away or reaching inside your pockets, so there is no reason to believe you are dangerous.

Even when you feel you are being mistreated, do not fight with the police.

As with any arrest, you have the right to remain silent until you speak with a lawyer. Use it.

Contact Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys in Oregon to Protect Your Rights

Contact our skilled Oregon criminal defense lawyers at Mark C. Cogan, P.C. by calling 503-827-8092 to discuss your arrest — including any mistreatment that may have occurred during the process — and learn how we can help you pursue the best outcome for your unique case.

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