Technology makes us all feel invincible in a weird sort of way, right? There’s a sense of control in being able to capture pretty much everything whenever you want — not to mention having the world’s information at your fingertips. But, amidst all the selfies and livestreams, we tend to forget we’re not actually in control of everything. We can be filmed without our consent — or even our knowledge — and it’s made fact-checking easier than ever. People act recklessly because they assume there won’t be consequences, because they (usually) don’t realize there are witnesses with recording devices around.
But this is about more than just your drunken frat parties ending up on some stranger’s Facebook Live. Body cams are a thing that exist now, and they’re on all Annapolis cops. Which means, you better be real careful about what you say when you interact with an officer in any circumstances, because you may just be giving your future jury a fun little movie to watch.
Annapolis body cameras add a new layer of evidence
The whole point of body cameras is accountability, for both the officers and those they interact with. They’ve become more popular in the recent years thanks to social media shining a light on police brutality, and just how often it happens. So, in an effort to reduce hearsay AND ensure safety of officers and— boom, body cams galore! Nowadays, Annapolis cops must have their body cams on and recording:
any encounter between an officer and a member of the public in which there is a potential for, the likelihood of or certainty of some type of official law enforcement action including, but not limited to, a call for service or an on-view intervention: a field stop or traffic stop; a stop and frisk; the issuance of a criminal or traffic citation; an arrest; a search (either consensual, probable cause based or incidental to an arrest); during prisoner transport.
Here’s the thing people forget: body cams are recording you, too. You can’t just do whatever you want and expect a jury to only look at the cop’s behavior, and you certainly can’t expect to get away with lying. This doesn’t even apply to only serious offenses. Sometimes, the lies body cams expose are just plain weird. For example, a Colorado 18 year old bragged about getting out from a DUI with a ridiculously, lethally-high amount of alcohol in her blood because the officer just couldn’t resist giving her his number and asking her out to lunch.
There are a couple of things wrong with this. First, the BAC she proclaimed to have was a 3.8. Meaning, unless she’s a zombie now with a ruptured liver, something’s a little off. Secondly, and maybe most importantly, NONE OF IT HAPPENED. She wasn’t…drunk. She was sober. She was sober, and sobbed to the officer about her recent breakup, so he took pity on her (SINCE SHE WAS SOBER) and let her off with a warning. He also handed her a business card that had strictly professional police info on it — and no phone number.
How do we know all of this? Because body cam footage is public record, so the police station the officer works for simply released it online, as is their legal right. And now everyone has seen this girl in a less-than-flattering state, and they all know she lied, and she can never go back to a time before that was a thing. Transparency for all involved is not always in your favor.
Surprising news! An Annapolis DUI defense attorney makes a difference
No matter the crime, no matter the severity — you want an attorney. This is regardless of whether or not there’s incriminating footage of you or the officer(s) involved, but it goes doubly so if there is. Attorneys look at the facts and they use them to your advantage, and they do it in a way that only happens after years of school and experience. Namely, they do it in a way that works.
Take DUIs for example. Maryland takes them pretty seriously, assigns some pretty hefty fines and penalties to even the more minor of charges. Body camera footage could show the officer failing to administer the proper field tests, or abusing his authority in some way to score an arrest. It could also show you bragging about how drunk you were. The right criminal defense attorney knows how to deal with both situations. In the first case, the attorney may fight to have the video shown to the jury and use it to strengthen your case of innocence. In the second, trying to get the video suppressed would be the move, but the attorney may also use the footage to prove you need special treatment for your alcoholism instead of a prison sentence and a lifetime of debt.
The point is, DUI defense attorneys know what they’re doing and how to tailor those services to their clients. No matter what the details of your case may be, there are always options — as long as you pursue them. If you do nothing, or try to represent yourself, you face the full force of the law and an opposing side that will absolutely include prosecutors with more legal experience than you have. This isn’t a mark on your intelligence or your ability to binge Law & Order; it’s just a fact. You don’t do your own surgery; and you shouldn’t fight your own legal cases.
(Also a fact? Legally, you don’t have to hire a lawyer. But you really should.)
There is no shame in getting legal help. It is the wisest thing you can possibly do, and shows you understand the law enough to know you need professional counsel and representation. Whether there’s footage of you or not, and whether you’ve been accused of a DUI or something else, the Annapolis DUI defense attorneys at Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law are here for you without judgment, even if you did something… less than wise, like lie on camera to a cop. We maintain offices here and in Ellicott City, and you can always reach us by phone at 410-271-1892. If the internet is more your jam, we also have contact forms you can fill out. For your sake, don’t wait.
And remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!