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Police Body Cameras and Texas Criminal Cases

Police body camera footage of your arrest can provide evidence that can persuade a jury to acquit you, but many controversies and gray areas surround which body camera footage can be shown to the public.

Last year, Texas legislators introduced several pieces of legislation intended to prevent police violence; these bills were, in part, a response to the 2018 killings of Carlos High of Grand Prairie and Botham Jean in Dallas at the hands of police. Last year, Senate Bill 158 became law; it provides funding for the purchases of body cameras by police departments and authorizes officers to wear body cameras while on duty. Officers routinely wear body cameras in some of the largest cities in Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. If you get charged with a crime, police body camera footage of your arrest can play an important role in your defense. The criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker can help you present the best possible defense in your case, whether or not body cameras recorded your arrest.

Body Cameras as Evidence in Criminal Cases

If you get accused of a crime, you have the right to take your case to trial. Your lawyer can obtain the body camera footage of your arrest if the officers were wearing body cameras; the videos might show that the officers were in the wrong to arrest you. Your lawyer might even decide to show the footage to the jury and explain how the video does not clearly show that you committed the crime. Remember that, to get acquitted, you do not have to show clearly that someone else committed the crime or that the crime the prosecution is accusing you of never occurred. The jury must acquit you even if they are not sure whether you committed the crime; the standard of evidence in criminal cases is very high.

According to the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and a report in the Texas Tribune, body cameras are a start, but several issues remain unresolved. The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition notes that there is no requirement for officers to notify civilians that they are being recorded. This means that defendants might inadvertently make self-incriminating statements on video, whereas they would choose their words more carefully if they knew that cameras were rolling. The Texas Tribune report focuses on the many situations in which police may withhold or redact video recordings, such as videos that depict juveniles or ones that show human corpses. It remains to be seen whether these loopholes help or hinder the pursuit of justice.

Contact the Fort Worth Law Office of Kyle Whitaker About Exercising Your Rights in a Criminal Case

Cameras do not lie, but their statements are open to interpretation. A criminal defense lawyer can help you show how the body camera footage of your arrest demonstrates your innocence or establishes doubt about your guilt. Contact the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker in Fort Worth, Texas to discuss your case.