Are bodycam recordings allowed in court?

Usability of bodycam recordings in court #

Recordings from a police officer’s body cam can be used as evidence in court.

The following applies to recordings made by private individuals: The authenticity of the video must be guaranteed, so that e.g. posed situations are not wrongly evaluated. Therefore the origin of the video must be just as comprehensible. One must be able to indicate where the video was created and how, with date, place and time information. Exactly the same must be able to be called also the camera type. Then also such secret recordings can be released by a judge, for example for the investigation work of the police.

As with dash-cams, the recording must not be permanent. According to a judgement of the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, this is inadmissible with reference to the Data Protection Act. However, this inadmissibility does not mean that the videos may not be used in civil proceedings. It is always a question of weighing up the individual case.

Secretly made recordings #

Each of us has the right to his or her own picture, so it must be asked before it is taken. This also applies to pictures that are taken secretly. Basically, it must be said that secret video recordings tend not to be used in court.  On the contrary: If you record a person against their knowledge, you even commit the criminal offence of “violation of the confidentiality of the word” and can be sentenced with a fine, or even imprisonment for up to 3 years!

Videos without sound, on the other hand, could in some cases be used in legal proceedings without consent. The personal right of the person to his or her own image remains unaffected by this, of course. In any case, please inform the person concerned before starting the recording that he or she is being recorded now.

Photos taken by police officers by mistake can also be used in court. This was confirmed by the Düsseldorf Regional Court in February 2019.

Important: Please note that this is not legal advice, but only our assessment of the current legal situation in Germany. Outside of Germany the legal situation may differ. In case of doubt, please ask a lawyer.

Sources:

https://www.dominik-ruder.de/2019/07/30/sind-heimliche-aufnahmen-vor-gericht-zul%C3%A4ssig/

https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Gericht-erklaert-Bodycam-Aufnahmen-fuer-zulaessiges-Beweismittel-4311087.html

https://www.stern.de/auto/dashcam-aufnahmen-werden-vor-gericht-zugelassen—wenn-auch-begrenzt-7984132.html

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