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When might CCTV surveillance footage be inadmissible in court?

Sep 19, 2021 | Criminal Defense

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it might not mean much in legal proceedings. With thousands of security cameras recording every move we make, at least some video will likely become part of the evidence that prosecutors use in a case. 

If you have been caught on video allegedly committing a crime, you might think it is an open and shut case. However, this video doesn’t always prove guilt. There are some instances in which such footage may be inadmissible in court. This may be key to securing an acquittal in your case.

Ways in which CCTV surveillance may be inadmissible

Like all other pieces of evidence, surveillance footage can be inadmissible based on several technicalities. These may include:

  • The party taking the surveillance footage might have illegally obtained it. The video must have been recorded as per all existing laws for it to qualify as evidence in a case. Law enforcement officers must also have a search warrant to pull such footage and present it as evidence. Their failure to procure a warrant may violate your Fourth Amendment rights, thus rendering it inadmissible in court. 
  • A timestamp error on the surveillance video could result in the court dismissing this potential evidence. Defendants often argue that a wrong timestamp can affect the credibility of the evidence since it doesn’t give an accurate account of the timing of what occurred. 
  • It does not paint the whole picture. There are always two sides to a story, and if the footage in question is very biased against you, it may not be admissible in court. For instance, the footage may show you raising your hand, which can be mistaken as aggressive behavior, while you were really defending yourself against aggression from someone else. 

It’s essential to look at every angle

Safeguarding your legal rights should always take priority, especially as far as the rules of evidence are concerned. Many formalities are involved in the admissibility of evidence in court, and it may be advisable to have a knowledgeable hand guiding you through it all.