Dash-cam videos can serve as an incredibly powerful piece of evidence in proving a defendant's innocence. Just recently, a Pennsylvania man successfully fought a traffic ticket via personal dash-cam footage.
But what about police dash-cam videos, do you have a right to access them?
In general, the public and defendants are entitled to access police dash-cam videos. But the process of obtaining such videos is much trickier.
Your Right to Dash-Cam Footage
Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know law protects public access to records and, more specifically, provides a means for people to request and obtain dash-cam records from the Pennsylvania State Police. However, there are certain exemptions to the rule that allow the police to deny a request, including when a criminal investigation is ongoing.
While the public's right to access dash-cam footage may be limited by exemptions, DUI defendants generally have a right to access dash-cam videos because of the U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland.
Under Brady v. Maryland, exculpatory evidence -- that is, evidence that is favorable to the defendant -- held by prosecutors must be disclosed to defendants. Failing to do so would constitute a due process violation and could even lead to a new trial. As a result, DUI defendants have a right to access exculpatory dash-cam evidence.
While defendants may have a right to access DUI dash-cam videos, being able to readily access them is another story. When you make a request for dash-cam footage, you may experience a number of roadblocks, including statutory exemptions, administrative delays, and substantial processing fees.
A separate issue is dealing with police departments that are reluctant to fork over the footage. There are two options in these situations: abandon the public records request, or take the matter to court. Unfortunately, suing a police department for dash-cam video would require a great deal of your time, money, and energy.
Although the administrative issues can be taxing, getting access to dash-cam footage is possible. Your Philadelphia DUI attorney can walk you through the steps to obtain it.