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Video Evidence Introduced in Court

15th November 2010
By Ryan P. Rooth in Legal
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As the cost of video technology becomes more affordable and the ability to store the video becomes easier, the use of video in court cases has greatly increased. The increased prevalence of video capturing criminal activity has made video a pivotal issue in determining whether the prosecutor can obtain a conviction. Video can be used as compelling evidence or it can provide the defense with an argument for mistaken identity and reasonable doubt.

The videos are typically obtained from police cruisers dash cameras, businesses, homeowners, and portable devices. A large majority of the DUI arrests locally are video recorded. DUI invstigations often have video which begins recording before a suspect even exits their car. The video of a DUI investigation more times than not is admitted into evidence. It is also the most sought after evidence by a jury. DUI cases that do not have a video tend to leave a jury more reluctant to convict if the evidence isn't overwhelming against the defendant. There are other situations when the police have video but the most common is a DUI investigation.

Companies spend a great deal of money on some of the most sophisticated video recording systems. Businesses, including the Hard Rock Café, Derby Lane, Wal-Mart, and Target, tend to have multiple cameras and superior video quality. Many businesses routinely train their employees how to operate the video equipment and how to preserve the video for court proceedings.

In addition, ongoing neighbor disputes have led to homeowners equipping their homes with outdoor video cameras. Whether this type of video is truly evidentiary depends greatly upon the quality of the video and the homeowner's ability to properly install, record, and preserve the video.

Most cell phones have the ability to record video at a moments notice. The quality of the video is usually very low, but under the right conditions the video recorded is sufficient to capture criminal activity. One major problem with the handheld recording devices is that citizens are usually reluctant to come forward if they have captured video of an alleged crime.

All video must be relevant to the case and must be authenticated before the jury can view it. To authenticate a video, a party must provide sworn testimony regarding how the video was preserved, that the video was reviewed personally, and that the video clearly and accurately depicts what occurred on the date of the criminal offense.

The existence of a video recording alleged criminal activity brings multiple legal issues to the forefront of a case. Is the video relevant to proving the elements of the crime? Has the video been properly authenticated? What exactly does the video show? Is the evidence persuasive? Should the defense attorney object to the entire video or just a part of the video? The smallest statement or the briefest image can transform the State's evidence from solid to shaky. The quality of the recording, the statements made, and the images themselves can be the basis of a legal challenge to the admissibility of a video.

Not all video necessarily negatively impacts your criminal case. The trial strategy of your criminal defense attorney should include determining whether a video is beneficial to your case and how to fight for its introduction or exclusion from trial. Retaining a skilled criminal defense attorney, especially one with experience in handling video evidence, to formulate your legal strategy is the best decision you can make for your criminal case.


Ryan Rooth is a criminal defense attorney from St. Petersburg, Florida. Ryan Rooth represents individuals charged with criminal offenses throughout Florida. If you have a questions regarding the criminal system visit our website and download you FREE e-book, available at =>
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