What You Should Know About Filming or Recording Police Officers in Florida

What You Should Know About Filming or Recording Police Officers in Florida

When encountering a police officer, particularly if it is your word against theirs, it is natural to want to do everything you can to protect your rights. With the rising availability of smartphones, it has become more common to record or film encounters with police than ever before.

While full documentation of everything said can be beneficial, there are also certain risks to recording police officers. Because of this, many people have questions about the legality of recording or filming police officers in Florida, and if doing so can expose them to potential penalties.

Is It Legal to Record Police Officers in Florida?

38 states allow citizens to record police. 12 states, including Florida, require the consent of all parties being recorded. Florida courts ruled that “parties” does not include on-duty police. In other words, it is legal in Florida, and most states, to openly record on-duty police.

The following guide can help you better understand what to know about filming or recording police officers in Florida, including how to do so safely and legally.

Can I get arrested for recording police in Florida?

Although it is technically legal in Florida to film police, there are still restrictions and situations where you can run into problems. First of all, it must be in public where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, and it must not physically interfere with an officer’s legal duty.

Additionally, there is also a risk that a police officer may unfairly harass you, detain you, or take your recording device from you. Be prepared for the possibility that an officer may even arrest you for obstruction of justice, disorderly conduct, or violation of wiretapping laws. But no matter what, you cannot and will not be charged for illegally recording police.

Police may feel like being recorded is a challenge to their authority. In some cases, a police officer may simply not know or fully understand the law and will try to prevent or stop recording even if you are not doing anything wrong. In those circumstances, you should minimize the appearance of any threat while also standing your ground.

How to Respond to Police if You’re Recording Them

An officer may ask what you are doing. It is recommended to avoid saying anything aggressive or defensive.


  • “I am recording you to make sure you are doing your job right”
  • “It is a free country”

Instead, remain cool and calm. Two examples of non-confrontational responses include the following statements.


  • “I am using my phone’s capabilities”
  • “I am recording the action from a safe distance”

Is Florida a Stop and ID state?

A “Stop and ID” statute refers to any recorded law that empowers a police officer to ask a person believed to be engaging in suspicious or criminal activities to stop and identify themself. Under Florida Statute 901.151, this is known as the “Stop and Frisk Law”. This enables an officer to temporarily detain a person engaged in suspicious or potentially criminal activity, and question them as to their identity and purpose. If there is suspicion that the person may be armed, the officer also has the right to perform a search on the person’s body for a weapon.

Do you have to identify yourself to the police in Florida? How does that impact recording or filming?

As stated above, Florida officers can require you to identify yourself if they have reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity. One way to tell if they have reasonable suspicion is to determine if you are free to go by asking “Officer, are you detaining me, or am I free to go?”

If the officer says you are free or not being detained, it is your choice to stay or go. If you are being detained, you only have to provide your name — NOT your ID — and it is up to you whether to provide anything further.

If an officer tells you it is illegal to record them, you have the option to politely present your knowledge of Florida state law by saying something to the effect of: “Officer, I am familiar with the law, and the courts have ruled that it does not apply to recording on-duty police.”

5 Rules for Recording Police

  1. Keep a Safe Distance. Do not run at, or stand close to an officer who is performing their duties. If an officer asks you to move further away and you feel you are already standing at a reasonable distance, you may say something like, “Officer, I have a right to be here. I am filming for documentation purposes and not interfering with your work.”
  2. Do Not Shove The Camera In Their Faces. Hold your camera at waist level and tilt the device upward to record, or hold the device close to your body. It is far less confrontational than the paparazzi-like move of shoving the camera between you and the officer’s face.
  3. Do Not Make Any Sudden Movements. Try to have your device ready early on. If it looks like you are scrambling to grab a gun, the police may reach for theirs.
  4. Consider Downloading One Of The Free Police Recording Phone Apps if you have a smartphone. These apps allow you to save recordings even if your phone is put to sleep, and some allow you to continue recording while your device is in sleep mode.
  5. Make Sure That Your Device Is Always Passcode Protected. Without your passcode, police will not be able to delete videos or personal information, even if they take or destroy your device. NEVER reveal your passcode!

Use Caution While Recording Any Law Enforcement Activity

REMEMBER! Be respectful. Police are not your enemy. Police officers perform dangerous jobs that require them to make snap decisions about potential threats. Let them know that you are exercising your First Amendment Right to film and that if they feel you are a threat, to tell you right away, so you can alter any perceived behavior, to make them feel safe in the performance of their duties, short of you not exercising your right to record them.

Contact Clark Hartpence Law for Free Legal Consultation

In the event that you are or have been arrested for recording police activity, please call Clark Hartpence Law at (855)-680-4911 or submit a form so that we can protect your rights and discuss your legal options.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.