In Florida, the law allows for recording police officers under certain conditions. Florida Statute § 934.03 prohibits the intentional interception of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, making it a third-degree felony. However, an exception is made when all parties to the communication give their consent.
For oral communication to be protected under the statute, the person speaking must have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and society must recognize that expectation as reasonable. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which presides over Florida, has held that individuals have a First Amendment right, subject to reasonable time, manner, and place restrictions, to photograph or videotape police conduct.
This right extends to gathering information about what public officials do on public property and, specifically, a right to record matters of public interest. This right was upheld when an individual was recording police activity during a protest. Therefore, you can record the police anytime you are in an open public space where other individuals can witness what is happening, as long as you are not interfering with police activity. However, if you are in a more private place, the law is less clear, and you should ask yourself if other people can still witness what is happening and if the officer has consented to being recorded before proceeding to record.
Florida law also allows law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. A law enforcement agency that permits its officers to wear body cameras must establish policies and procedures addressing the proper use, maintenance, and storage of body cameras and their data. The policies and procedures must include general guidelines for the proper use, maintenance, and storage of body cameras, any limitations on which law enforcement officers are permitted to wear body cameras, and any limitations on law-enforcement-related encounters and activities in which law enforcement officers are permitted to wear body cameras.
Yet, while it is legal to record active-duty police on cell phones in Florida, you can be arrested while recording for obstruction. The key word here is “obstruction” and not “recording”. While it is not possible to be charged for recording police officers even without their consent in Florida, it is possible to be charged with obstruction of justice, wiretapping (934.03), or disorderly conduct when recording the police.
For more information on this topic, you can refer to the following resources:
- Right to Record the Police in Florida
- The 2023 Florida Statutes – Online Sunshine
- What You Should Know About Filming or Recording Police Officers in Florida – Clark Law
- Is It Legal to Record The Police in Florida? | The Law Office of Matthew Konecky, P.A.
- Can You Be Arrested While Recording Police in Florida? Yes. – Fusco Law Group