These days, everyone has a video camera in their pocket. We've all seen viral videos of someone filming an angry man or woman in the throes of screaming about some injustice, either real or perceived.

Is it legal to film police in Arizona?
Is it legal to film police in Arizona? // Canva

There are miles of footage of someone in the middle of an encounter with law enforcement, filming a traffic stop or other interaction, under the assumption that if the officer does something "out of line," the video evidence will exonerate the defendant, if necessary.

READ: Who's Liable if Someone's Stung on Your Arizona Property?

Whether it’s permissible to film police officers has been a subject of legal scrutiny in Arizona, and the answer was not clear until a few years ago.

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Is It Illegal to Film Law Enforcement in Arizona?

In 2022, Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2319 into lawThis contentious piece of legislation added restrictions on the rights of citizens and their cameras. The law stipulated that individuals "could not knowingly film police officers from a distance of 8 feet or closer without explicit permission."

Is it legal to film police in Arizona?
The First Amendment covers the legality. // Canva

The rule applied both to public and private property, where filming could be halted by an officer under the pretext of interference or safety concerns.

Arizona Makes a Change in the Law

Violating the eight-foot filming law was considered a misdemeanor and could have led to fines or jail time.

READ: Can You Legally Go 10 Miles Over the Speed Limit in Arizona?

The law was contested, and in July of 2023, a US District Court Judge struck down the law. Judge John J. Tuchi cited infringement on the clearly established right of police and rendered the law unenforceable.

Is it legal to film police in Arizona?
A judge overturned Arizona's law. // Canva

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of expression. Courts have ruled that it includes the right to record law enforcement officers performing their duties in public spaces. Overturning the law in Arizona reinforced the values of the United States Constitution.

Is it legal to film police in Arizona?

As long as a private citizen remains respectful, there's no problem with filming a police officer as he or she executes their duties. It's polite to let them know you're taking video and to stay out of the way for safety reasons. And yes, it is legal in Arizona to capture videos of law enforcement.

Sources: GPB News | APNews | | | NPR | Reason.comWikipedia ]

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