I’ll Be Watching You

by Rick Wetzel on January 27, 2011

An article in the Austin American Statesman this week indicated the Austin Police Department will soon provide patrol officers head mounted cameras.  The camera is capable of recording everything the officer sees while performing policing duties.

Everybody Is Watching

Surveillance cameras at airports, subways, banks and other public venues are not the only devices tracking you. Inexpensive, ever-watchful digital sensors are now everywhere.  They are in laptop webcams, video-game motion sensors, Smartphone cameras, utility meters, passports and employee ID cards. Step out your front door and you could be captured in a high-resolution photograph taken from the air or street by Google or Microsoft, as they update their respective mapping services. Drive down a city thoroughfare, cross a toll bridge, or park at certain shopping malls and your license plate will be recorded and time-stamped.

Videotaped Evidence

I worked on five cases last year in which my client’s alleged wrongdoing was captured on videotape.  Three cases involved surveillance cameras in convenience stores or a restaurant.  One case involved a video camera mounted on the dash of a police car.  The final case involved my client videotaping himself engaged in an act which resulted in a 520 year prison sentence.

Even the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has expressed its faith in videotaped evidence with the following example:  The store clerk at trial identifies “A” as the robber. A properly authenticated surveillance videotape of the event clearly shows that “B” committed the robbery. But, the jury convicts “A.” It was within the jury’s prerogative to believe the convenience store clerk and disregard the video. But, based on all the evidence, the jury’s finding of guilt is not a rational finding.  Brooks v. State, 323 S.W.3d 893, 907 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010).

Admissibility Predicate

Digital evidence is admissible at trial if the proper predicate is established.  A Texas criminal appeals lawyer knows the rules of evidence and can help you determine if digital evidence was improperly admitted or excluded at your trial.

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