Installing video surveillance – whether in commercial or residential applications – is a proven deterrent against violence, crime and theft. However, before installing security cameras on your property, it is important to know the legal ramifications and laws in your state. In Virginia, there are laws which criminalize the videotaping or photography of non-consenting individuals who are totally nude, partially undressed or wearing undergarments in places one would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Under Virginia Code §18.2-386, this would include places such as public dressing rooms, bathroom stalls, hotel rooms, public locker rooms, tanning booths, bedrooms and other sensitive areas.
Video monitoring of employees in Virginia
Other than Virginia Code §18.2-386, there are no strict state laws regarding videotaping, whether in the home or the workplace. Employers have often utilized fixed video cameras in the workplace to maintain perimeter security and monitor the actions of employees. This type of video surveillance, where cameras are placed in visible locations, presents no legal risks to the business owner. There is no current case law that prohibits employers from videotaping their premises or employees, as long as the cameras are visible and the monitoring is not especially invasive.
In other states, several courts have upheld employee privacy rights in circumstances where video surveillance was placed in restrooms or locker rooms.
Because most workplaces are not considered to be private areas, the central issue is not the legality of video monitoring, but rather how the surveillance may be used. If the primary goal is to capture evidence of personnel who are violating company policy, the footage must be handled with care to prevent giving employees a legal cause of action.
Security cameras in the home
Virginia residents can legally install home video surveillance in and around their homes for the purpose of securing their property and possessions. This includes the installation of hidden security cameras, although Virginia prohibits the use of hidden cameras that also record audio. Any footage gleaned without a person’s consent that has audio recording is deemed illegal under Virginia’s wiretapping statute.
While capturing both video and audio may seem like an effective tool for home security, Virginia Code § 19.2-62 raises liability issues with footage that contains simultaneous audio recordings. It is illegal to “intercept or record” any oral communication unless at least one person consents to the recording beforehand. In order to remain compliant with Virginia’s video surveillance laws, homeowners are advised to purchase silent security cameras without microphones and audio capabilities.
Unlawful video or audio recording can be punished as a felony in Virginia. When performed in compliance with Virginia statutes, video surveillance footage can be used as evidence in the courtroom.
Security services in Virginia
Maryland Security Professionals can advise you on all federal and state laws pertaining to audio and video surveillance in Virginia. From gated communities and construction sites to private homes, we offer customized security solutions designed to deter crime and safeguard assets. For more information about Virginia security and camera installation, contact Maryland Security Professionals today.
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Additional Virginia video surveillance resources
- Camera Surveillance Signs, Where can you place surveillance cameras and signs? http://www.camerasurveillancesigns.com/where-place-surveillance-cameras.html
- Justia, 2006 Code of Virginia § 18.2-386.1 – Unlawful filming, videotaping or photographing of another; penalty http://law.justia.com/codes/virginia/2006/toc1802000/18.2-386.1.htm