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Can I Film The Police In Utah?

Legality of Recording Police in Utah

In Utah, can I be charged with I crime if I use my phone or other device to record a law
enforcement encounter?

The Short answer is no, as long as you do not interfere with the law enforcement officer’s arrest or detention. In 2017, Utah Legislator and Chief Sponsor of Senate Bill 239, Senator Todd Weiler, and Representative Adam Gardiner enacted the following statute which provides:

“Recording the actions of a law enforcement Officer with a camera, mobile phone, or other photographic
device, while the officer is performing official duties in plain view, does not by itself constitute (a) interference with a police officer, (b) willful resistance, (c) disorderly conduct, or (d) obstruction of justice.”

The key is “does not by itself constitute”, meaning other facts or actions taken by the person filming can be considered to determine whether you can be charged criminally for interfering with an arrest or detention while filming a law enforcement encounter. Usually it will be the law enforcement officer who will assert those other facts or actions that resulted in the interference.

Can Police force me to stop filming?

At the time of the lawful arrest or detention, the filmer must exercise reasonable care to not interfere with the arrest or detention and comply with any act required by lawful order of the police officer, whether you agree with the order or not. This may include being asked to move from one location to the other, or outside of a secured scene. Refusing to comply may risk arrest or being charged. What they cannot ask is that you stop filming.

Can Police confiscate my phone or camera?

Law Enforcement cannot just take your phone or camera. They must have a lawful purpose to do so. The general rule is they must obtain a warrant to seize your filming device. Our 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizure by the government unless one of the many exceptions. If they ask for the filming device and you do not want to provide it, make it clear in the video that you do not consent to providing the filming device and that you are demanding a search warrant. The result may be that you are detained until a warrant is obtained or the filming device is seized in spite of your 4th Amendment rights. You will then need to petition the Court for the return of your seized property.
Under any of the scenarios, you may believe you are not interfering with an arrest or detention, and you may also believe you are exercising reasonable care in your compliance of a lawful order. If you find yourself being arrest, do not resist arrest and you may be criminally charged for your resistance in spite of the unlawful basis for the arrest.

If you find yourself being arrested for filming a law enforcement encounter, or if your filming device has been seized, call Ferbrache Law (801) 440-7476 right away to ensure your constitutional rights are protected.


Blogs and articles are intended for informational and educational purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice or council. 

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