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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: It's a Felony in Massachusetts to Record a Cop in Action

     A Massachusetts woman with the good sense to audio record her cop encounter on her cell phone is now facing felony wiretapping charges because she did not inform the officers that they were being recorded--something state law requires. Karen Dziewit was drinking outside an apartment building in Springfield, Massachusetts on Saturday night, May 10, 2014. Residents complained that she was yelling at them and refused to calm down. They called the police….

     The responding officers decided to arrest the 24-year-old Dziewit for causing a disturbance. Just before she was taken into custody, however, she activated the recording feature on her phone. Eventually, police searched her purse and discovered that the phone was recording. Dziewit will now be charged with felony wiretapping….

     While it may seem absurd that a person could be prosecuted for recording the police--something that civil libertarians encourage responsible citizens to do when they are confronted by law enforcement--Massachusetts is among the least friendly states for citizens recording cops. In most states, it is either always legal to record another person, or at least always legal to record the police, who don't have an expectation of privacy when serving in an official capacity.

     Massachusetts and Illinois, however, have laws on the books requiring both parties to consent to be recorded--even if one of the parties is a cop. Indeed, Massachusetts courts have upheld convictions against citizens who did not inform cops that they were being recorded….

Robby Soave, "Woman Charged With Wiretapping Because She Dared to Record The Cops," The Daily Caller, May 11, 2014

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