California Penal Code 148(g) PC states that photographing or recording law enforcement does not constitute resisting or obstructing a police officer as long as the officer is in a public place or the person with the camera has the right to be there. And the police may not detain or arrest the person merely for taping them.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
148g. The fact that a person takes a photograph or makes an audio or video recording of a public officer or peace officer, while the officer is in a public place or the person taking the photograph or making the recording is in a place he or she has the right to be, does not constitute, in and of itself, a violation of subdivision (a), nor does it constitute reasonable suspicion to detain the person or probable cause to arrest the person.
California Penal Code 148 g PC states that recording the police without their consent is not a crime in California as long as:
- the officer is in a public place (such as on the street) or the person with the camera has the legal right to be there, and
- the person with the camera is not otherwise doing anything to hinder public officers from carrying out their duties1
Police may express annoyance at being video-recorded. But unless the cameraperson is getting in the way of their job duties, simply photographing or recording the police does not constitute either:
- reasonable suspicion for the purposes of detaining the cameraperson, or
- probable cause for the purpose of arresting the cameraperson2
PC 148g was codified in 2015 by California Governor Jerry Brown in Senate Bill 411, called the Right to Record Act. It makes allowances for the reality that everyone owns smartphones, and many people use them to record the police when they see an arrest or other heated incident involving law enforcement.3
See our related article, Is it illegal to record someone without consent in California?
- California Penal Code 148(g) PC – Resisting public or peace officers or emergency medical technicians in discharge of their duties; Removal of weapon from person or presence of public or peace officer. See also Luong v. City & Cnty. of San Francisco Police Dep’t (9th Cir. Cal., 2015), 630 Fed. Appx. 691 [unpublished decision].
- PC 148g.
- PC 148g.