Is Body Cam Footage Used Against You During a Criminal Case?
Prosecutors can use body cam footage if the defendant waived certain constitutional rights and the gadget was working properly.
One of the most important parts of the Bill of Rights is the Fifth Amendment. This provision not only guarantees the right to verbal silence, such as the refusal to answer questions or testify in court. The Fifth Amendment also includes the right to physical silence. Defendants need not pose for pictures, appear in lineups, hold weapons, or try on clothes. They need only follow basic commands, like “step out of the car” or “license and insurance, please.”
So, body cam footage may be used against you if prosecutors get around the Fifth Amendment. A few defendants formally waive their Fifth Amendment rights. Many others informally waive them. The Supreme Court recently held that unless defendants expressly state they are asserting their Fifth Amendment rights, they waive these rights, at least in most cases.
The burden of proof is so high in criminal cases that prosecutors need every bit of evidence they can use. Body cam evidence is especially important in DUI cases, resisting arrest cases, and a few others. The less evidence the state has, the easier it is for a Norcross criminal defense lawyer to resolve the matter successfully. This resolution could be a plea to a lesser included offense, a not-guilty verdict at trial, or a complete dismissal of charges.
Evidence in Criminal Cases
Eyewitness testimony is the bread and butter of most criminal prosecutions. Electronic evidence, like body cam footage, is also admissible.
Many cases are single-witness cases. The primary arresting officer is the only witness. Basically, police officers are professional witnesses. Most officers have testified hundreds or thousands of times. Furthermore, most officers receive special training in this area.
Back in the day, Judges often dismissed cases because the arresting officer did not appear at the trial date. Such dismissals are rare now. Most departments have cracked down on no-show officers.
Non-officer witnesses, like an alleged assault victim, are a different story. These individuals have usually never testified in court before. Additionally, the extreme stress they are under affects their recall. Alcohol has the same effect.
Delay has the same effect as well. Over time, witnesses forget important details. Additionally, the more times they tell the same story, the harder it is for them to keep the facts straight.
Breathalyzers, body cams, RADAR guns, and other electronic devices often have calibration or mechanical issues. For example, a Massachusetts judge recently threw out hundreds of DUI convictions because the Breathalyzers had not been properly calibrated.
Resolving Criminal Cases
Plea bargains resolve most criminal cases. As mentioned, these plea bargains often involve a reduced sentence or lower charges. A Norcross criminal defense attorney could challenge the state’s evidence at trial and possibly obtain a better result. However, as the old saying goes, a bird in the hand is usually worth two in the bush.
Additionally, pleading guilty is not the same thing as giving up. An attorney can still assert defenses, like a lack of evidence, and obtain a better result. The same thing is true for affirmative defenses, like consent or self-defense.
Contact an Experienced Gwinnett County Criminal Defense Lawyer
Body cam footage may be admissible at trial. For a free consultation with an experienced Norcross criminal defense lawyer, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters throughout the metro Atlanta area.