Is It Illegal to Video Record Someone Without Their Consent?

Is It Illegal to Video Record Someone Without Their Consent?

Today, almost everyone carries pocket-sized, high-quality cameras, and many people regularly snap photos and record videos of almost every occasion without a second thought for any negative consequences. However, before you pull out your smartphone or other recording device and start taking video, you should consider who your camera might capture and what the outcomes of your actions may be.

Can You Video Record Someone Without Their Consent in California?

In a legal context, consent is the most significant factor in determining whether the video recording you have made could land you in hot water. California is a two-party consent state, which means you must get permission from all involved parties before making your recording. Failure to do so might have significant legal ramifications.

Note that, while the law refers to “two-party” consent, every participant on camera must give their permission if more than two people are present at the time of the filming. One exception to the two-party consent rule is if you are recording police or other public officials carrying out their job responsibilities. If those activities are visible from publicly accessible places, such as parks or streets, you have the right to record video without their permission. The law also does not prohibit making videos of government proceedings that are open to members of the public.

Other Provisions Under California Video Recording Law

Due to California’s role as a center of the global entertainment industry, the state has also passed several unique laws pertaining to celebrities and paparazzi. For instance, CA Civil Code Section 1708.8 makes it illegal to capture photos, videos or audio recordings of people “engaging in a private, personal or familial activity.”

Meanwhile, CA Vehicle Code Section 40008 states that it’s a misdemeanor to act with the intent to capture any “visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of another person for a commercial purpose.” People who violate this code are subject to imprisonment in a county jail for up to six months and a fine of up to $2,500.

In California, it is also illegal to film someone while they are in a location with any reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a bedroom, bathroom, locker room, fitting room or medical office. For example, if you are sharing an apartment with a roommate, it’s against the law to set up a camera to secretly record them while they are in the bathroom or bedroom.

You Deserve Experienced Legal Representation

If you are facing criminal charges, you need a reputable attorney by your side to defend your case in a court of law. Orange County’s Salvatore P. Ciulla has been successfully defending criminal cases since opening the doors of his private law practice in 1986. At the Law Firm of Salvatore Ciulla, we treat every case and client respectfully and seriously.

Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge, our experienced, award-winning team would be happy to represent you. Please reach out to us today to schedule your complimentary consultation. We look forward to learning more about what we can do for you!


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