In an age where the majority of Americans carry a smartphone with them wherever they go, it should come as little surprise that there have been an increasing number of incidents where police unlawfully stop or detain a pedestrian for recording the officer’s actions. Recent actions by cops in Florida, New York and Maryland showcase the ineptitude of officer’s who, for one reason or another, refuse to let a law-abiding citizen to record their actions.
As it currently stands, 39 states have adopted what is known as the “one party consent law,” which means that only one party needs to consent to audio or video recording for it to be legal. So while you can’t record a phone conversation between two people who don’t know you’re listening in, you’re certainly within your rights to film a police officer in the line of duty, even if the other party doesn’t know or want you to film them.
Minnesota is one of the 39 states that have adopted the one party consent law when it comes to audio and video surveillance. As Minnesota Statue 626A.02 Subd. 2 Paragraph (c) dictates, which pertains to Interception and Disclosure of Wire, Electronic or Oral Communications:
It is not unlawful under this chapter for a person acting under color of law to intercept a wire, electronic, or oral communication, where such person is a party to the communication or one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception.
This means that you are within your rights to record an incident between an officer and another individual, even if both parties don’t know you are videotaping, because you are considered a party when you begin taping.
As expected, there are some exceptions to the rule, and rightfully so. There are two main caveats that pertain to the one party recording law in Minnesota:
Expectation of Privacy – A person can be charged with a misdemeanor offense if they record an individual in an area “where a reasonable person would have the expectation of privacy.” Exactly what constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy is up for debate, but generally speaking, if a person is likely to disrobe in this location, there is an expectation of privacy. This means places like a bedroom, bathroom, tanning booths, and changing rooms are off limit. Simply being in a car (or police vehicle) is not considered an area where there is an expectation of privacy.
Interfering with Police of Emergency Personnel – This clause made headlines last year when a Minnesota man was charged with obstruction of legal process and disorderly conduct for filming an officer who was frisking a bloody-faced man outside an apartment building. Despite being 30 feet away, officers confiscated and deleted the recording because they claimed the man was violating HIPAA laws and that they “had to stop dealing with [the situation] to deal with Henderson.” A jury recently acquitted the man, but the case highlights the importance of staying a reasonable distance away from the incident if you’re not directly involved.
Related source: Pioneer Press