Charged after Being Pulled Over, Is the Video Evidence a Possible Defense?
Police dashcam footage can be a blessing or a curse for your criminal case, depending on what the video depicts. If you have recently been arrested for a criminal or traffic offense in Ocean County, New Jersey, like eluding police, resisting arrest, aggravated assault of a police officer, hindering apprehension, obstruction, or driving while intoxicated (DWI), you might fear the potential release of the arresting officer’s dashcam footage or be eager to use it to prove your innocence. Here is some important information about police video evidence in New Jersey criminal cases.
Can Police Dashcam Footage Be Used as Evidence in Court?
Yes. During the discovery phase of your case, your criminal defense lawyer will be able to obtain a copy of the police footage if it’s available. As a double-sided coin, the footage from a police dashcam can be used to prove your guilt or innocence.
For example, if you are charged with eluding a police officer, the prosecution must prove that you intended to elude the police. Your behavior in the police dashcam footage may demonstrate that you saw the police, drove away, and tried to get away as they pursued you. On the other hand, the footage may be very beneficial to your case if it depicts a person traveling at a normal rate of speed for a short period of time and then turning their signal on to pull over to the side of the road. In that case, the prosecution may have a more difficult time proving that you intended to elude the police, rather than that you were listening to music loudly, were distracted, or did not see the police lights behind you.
In additional to proving your guilt or innocence, police dashcam footage can be used as proof of police misconduct. If you are charged with aggravated assault of a police officer when, in fact, the police engaged in brutality against you, footage from the dashcam may depict those facts and be used as evidence in your favor.
Could Police Car Video Be Helpful in My DWI Case?
In order to pull you over in your vehicle, the police must initially have reasonable suspicion that you have broken a law or committed a traffic violation. In the case of a DWI charge, the police may claim that there were signs of intoxication from your driving or that you violated a traffic law and, after pulling you over, they noticed signs of intoxication.
By obtaining footage from the police dashcam, your attorney can review that evidence and determine whether the police officer had reasonable suspicion to pull you over initially. To win their case, the prosecutor must be able to prove that the officer had reasonable suspicion to pull you over. The charges in your case may be dismissed if the prosecution cannot establish this.
Will the Video of My Arrest Be Made Public?
Recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that police dashcam footage are criminal investigatory records. The significance of this classification is that under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA), criminal investigatory records are exempt and not disclosed to the public and the media. This means that the police will generally not be required to release dashcam footage of an arrest to the public.
However, the ruling is not a complete bar to compelling the release of police dashcam footage. In 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that, under the common law of access, footage of fatal police shootings should be released to the public. Additionally, courts may order the release of dashcam footage when the public interest in releasing the footage outweighs concerns about confidentiality and privacy. Based on these recent decisions, it is unlikely that any police dashcam footage of your arrest will be released to the public.
Pulled Over and Arrested in Ocean County, NJ
If you have been charged with a crime or DUI after being pulled over in Ocean County towns such as Manchester, Brick, Point Pleasant, Seaside, Lacey Township, or nearby areas, the law offices of William Proetta Criminal Law can help. There are many defenses available to beat criminal and traffic charges and police dashcam footage may be helpful to prove your innocence. For additional information, contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers today at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation.