Across the United States, there has been a rise in both usage and interest of body cameras on police officers due to highly publicized cases of fatal shootings by law enforcement. The widespread use of body cameras aims to improve officer accountability and behavior, and curb the occurrence of such shootings.
However, body cameras have also become a new tool for criminal defense attorneys to use in determining the facts of the case. Since there will be actual footage of the arrest, lawyers no longer have to exclusively depend on an officer’s report or even his/her memory of an encounter with the defendant. A video recording of a police encounter can clarify any discrepancies that may exist between the officer’s and defendant’s accounts.
The following are the common ways police body camera footage can play an important role for criminal defense attorneys:
- Keeps law enforcement accountable and honest
- Contradict an officer’s statement about an interaction with the defendant and/or witness testimony
- Prove that law enforcement failed to properly advise the defendant of his/her Miranda rights before making incriminating statements
- Show police misconduct
- Prove the actual innocence of the defendant
The footage obtained from those cameras is having an impact in courtrooms as evidence—in addition to photographic and other video-type evidence—available to both the prosecution and the defense. If the video is available form a police body camera in your case, the footage could potentially strengthen or weaken your case.
For instance, if the video shows that a police officer failed to establish probable cause or improperly administered a field sobriety test in a DUI arrest, then any evidence uncovered during the traffic stop would be suppressed. By contrast, if the video shows the officer following the proper procedure during a search and seizure, then the defendant would like not be able to have the evidence suppressed.
For more information about our experienced legal services, contact Patituce & Associates and speak with our Cleveland lawyer today.