Kansas City Criminal Defense Lawyers
Police Body Camera Footage: Good or Bad for Criminal Defense?

Police Body Camera Footage: Good or Bad for Criminal Defense?

The use of body cameras by law enforcement has become a growing trend due to the rise of highly publicized officer-involved shootings. These cameras are a way to record and collect evidence to support an officer’s account of an arrest. Having actual footage of an arrest means that it is no longer necessary solely rely on the memory and subsequent report of the police officer with regard to his/her encounter with the defendant.

Although the evidence can be used for the prosecution’s benefit, it can also be used effectively by the defense. Rather than depend on witness testimony to reconstruct what really occurs regarding encounters between law enforcement and defendants, criminal defense attorneys can literally go over the videotape and see every single detail of the arrest.

The following are several ways criminal defense attorneys can take advantage of police body camera footage:

  • Holds police officers accountable for their actions and keeps them honest
  • Contradict an officer’s statement about an interaction with a defendant
  • Contradict witness testimony against the defendant
  • Demonstrate misconduct by law enforcement
  • Prove the actual innocence of the defendant

Footage can be admissible as evidence in court, following the same rules for admissibility as other photographic and video evidence. However, there are currently no standardized protocols for the installation and/or use of police body cameras, meaning there is no single correct way to use the device. Additionally, the process for requesting the footage could take months.

Fortunately, Kansas legislators took a positive step forward in March by unanimously passing a bill that would require police departments to share body camera footage more quickly. The bill would give law enforcement agencies up to 20 days to release requested footage.

Contact our Kansas City criminal defense attorney at Stein Law, LLC to learn more information about this new technology today.


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