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Can Security Camera Footage Be Used as Evidence in Court?

October 17, 2017
scales of justice in courtroom

scales of justice in courtroomWith technological improvement, security camera footage has progressed to high-definition images that can incorporate features like facial recognition and night vision. When it comes to proving a case inc ourt, video surveillance footage of the alleged criminal act can be highly persuasive evidence. Surveillance systems have the potential to provide valuable evidence for court actions ranging from personal injury lawsuits, to property damage claims, to criminal charges. 

Police rely on security camera footage

Surveillance footage may be offered as proof in a variety of legal matters. In criminal proceedings, surveillance footage is so helpful that police forces across the nation have adopted camera registration programs that enable police to pinpoint security cameras near the scene of a crime.

Washington DC offers a security system incentive program that includes rebates and vouchers to eligible individuals and organizations who install a qualifying camera system and register it with the Metropolitan Police Department. Baltimore police also rely on  security footage to virtually expand their eyes on the ground. 

Admissibility issues surrounding surveillance images

ecurity camera and urban videoThe admissibility of evidence captured on security cameras may be objectionable by opposing counsel. To overcome admissibility hurdles, those offering surveillance footage should be able to show that:

  1. The footage is accurate. This requires that the camera and recording system were operating properly and that the images corroborate other evidence. A common problem to watch for is incorrect time and/or date stamps, especially after the fall and spring time chages. Another potential issue is poor quality images. Older camera technology often produces images too blurry or grainy to use as evidence, but newer cameras installed by professionals can produce extremely high quality and reliable footage.
  2. The chain of custody is unbroken. It is important to be able to show who had possession of the video from the time it was stored in order to establish that it has not been manipulated. In the past, video would have been stored on physical tapes, making the chain of custody question easier to answer. With digital storage and retrieval, the chain of custody question can become more technical.

For more information call Maryland Security Professionals

Maryland Security Professionals provides security camera systems specially tailored to customer needs in Washington D.C. and nearby Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia. Our expert installation and high-tech equipment provide high-quality footage that may help bolster or defend any legal claims related to your property. Call today to schedule a free security audit of your home or business.

More on using security camera footage as evidence in court: 

  1. DC Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants, Private Security Camera System Incentive Program, https://ovsjg.dc.gov/service/private-security-camera-system-incentive-program
  2. Baltimore Sun, City expands surveillance system to include private cameras of residents, businesses, http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-citiwatch-20141029-story.html
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