You can take video of police officers in public without risking a Florida arrest, an appellate court ruled this month. The decision pertains to a 2009 case of a woman who filmed officers detaining her son outside a Boynton Beach movie theater. As our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers recognize, however, it has particular relevance in the post-George Floyd era.
The ruling in Ford v. City of Boynton Beach reversed an earlier trial court decision that found police had an expectation of privacy when they were filmed outside the movie theater. In sworn testimony, she indicated she took a digital camera with her when she went to get her son, who had been stopped by police for allegedly trying to sneak into a movie theater. Her intent, she said, was to ensure the police would be honest and truthful during the encounter.
When police demanded she stopped filming, she refused. Although it was undisputed that she never tried to physically obstruct or in any way impede the officers’ detention of her son, she was arrested on charges of intercepting oral communications and obstruction without violence – both misdemeanors. The officers argued she had invaded their privacy, justifying the charges. The State Attorney’s Office, however, declined to pursue the charges ages ago. The ruling in this case stems from a civil lawsuit she later filed against the department. Continue reading