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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Default Do You Have to Obey Police Orders to Leave if You're Filming Their Conduct

    My question involves civil rights in the State of: California

    I've been watching a lot of youtube videos of people exercising their rights to film the police while the police are doing questionable things. One thing that comes up over and over is the police ordering people who are filming them that they have to leave because they are obstructing the police, even when it's completely clear that they are not obstructing the police.

    I've been taught never to disobey a police order (once I am clear that it is an order rather than a request). Even if the order is unlawful, that it's not a good idea to argue law with a police officer in the field. Save it for the courts.

    However, many of the people in these videos do say something to the effect of "I'm not obstructing you because I'm out of everyone's way" and disobey the order, continuing to film, seemingly without consequence.

    I know this is dangerous and subjects them to potential arrest for failure to obey (even if unjustified), but what I'm curious about are:

    1. If I decide not to obey the order, how should I communicate to the officer that I am knowlegeably exercising my rights without accusing him of a crime (issuing an unlawful order) which is sure to inflame the situation.

    2. If I decide to comply with an unlawful order out of fear of unlawful consequences, what redress do I have in court against the officer for making an unlawful order?

    And on a slightly different topic: Is this girl's refusal to move her car off to the side of the road while detained legal, or was she just lucky that they didn't press the issue? She doesn't give any justification for refusing the order, even though she does justify her feeling that her detainment is unlawful.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cSfotUvjdk

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    833

    Default Re: Refusing Unlawful Police Orders to People Filming the Police to Leave

    Quote Quoting eolamiw
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    1. If I decide not to obey the order, how should I communicate to the officer that I am knowlegeably exercising my rights without accusing him of a crime (issuing an unlawful order) which is sure to inflame the situation.
    That is not a legal question and depends on the officer and the situation. Since you do not know the entire situation, remember you may not be correct on your assessment on if you are violation of the broadly worded Section 148(a)(1) of the penal code and are subject to arrest:
    148. (a) (1) Every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician, as defined in Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797) of the Health and Safety Code, in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, when no other punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
    2. If I decide to comply with an unlawful order out of fear of unlawful consequences, what redress do I have in court against the officer for making an unlawful order?
    You could submit a complaint to his department, you could try to sue him for violation of civil rights but, since you would have no damages, you would really be just spinning your wheels any way. While nominal damages can be awarded, that is a lot of hassle for the chance at a dollar.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    California
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    20,377

    Default Re: Refusing Unlawful Police Orders to People Filming the Police to Leave

    Quote Quoting eolamiw
    View Post
    My question involves civil rights in the State of: California

    I've been watching a lot of youtube videos of people exercising their rights to film the police while the police are doing questionable things. One thing that comes up over and over is the police ordering people who are filming them that they have to leave because they are obstructing the police, even when it's completely clear that they are not obstructing the police.
    A couple of things: One, laws vary by state, so it's hard to apply a blanket rule to every officer in all 50 states. And, two, the video does not always show the entire situation. While it may not SEEM that a person filming is not obstructing the officers in any way, that is not always the case. Egging on a crowd or exacerbating a situation can be a very legitimate law enforcement concern. So, if you want to film me, go right ahead, just don't do it nearby or in a way that you might make my job more difficult as a result of your presence.

    I've been taught never to disobey a police order (once I am clear that it is an order rather than a request). Even if the order is unlawful, that it's not a good idea to argue law with a police officer in the field. Save it for the courts.
    Very good advice.

    However, many of the people in these videos do say something to the effect of "I'm not obstructing you because I'm out of everyone's way" and disobey the order, continuing to film, seemingly without consequence.
    It could be because he's not doing anything wrong, or, the officer's a tad bit busy with something else! It's like the guy that fails to yield to a police car with lights and sirens as they roll to an emergency call - we can't pull them over because we're busy doing something else, yet failing to yield is against the law ... yet nothing happens to them. You deal with the incident that is more pressing.

    1. If I decide not to obey the order, how should I communicate to the officer that I am knowlegeably exercising my rights without accusing him of a crime (issuing an unlawful order) which is sure to inflame the situation.
    All you can do is use your words. Are you really involved in filming that many police encounters that this list of questions is actually necessary?

    2. If I decide to comply with an unlawful order out of fear of unlawful consequences, what redress do I have in court against the officer for making an unlawful order?
    You complain to the employing agency, contact the media, post the video on Youtube and enter into a diatribe, etc.

    And on a slightly different topic: Is this girl's refusal to move her car off to the side of the road while detained legal, or was she just lucky that they didn't press the issue? She doesn't give any justification for refusing the order, even though she does justify her feeling that her detainment is unlawful.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cSfotUvjdk
    That depends on where they were (border or interior checkpoint, permanent checkpoint or roving patrol, etc.). You don't generally have a right to evade or avoid a detention at an ICE checkpoint. But, they still need Reasonable Suspicion for the detention ... unless at the border crossing. In the video it seems that a more senior officer came in to defuse the situation, decided it wasn't worth the confrontation since it did not appear that the people involved were illegals, and allowed them to go.

    From CPOLS:

    Border Patrol agents may stop travelers at the border, or near the border at its "functional equivalent," without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Border stops are deemed reasonable "by the single fact that the person or item in question had entered into our country from outside." (Ramsey (1977) 431 U.S. 606, 619; Valenzuela (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 817, 824.) Routine searches of persons and property coming into the country do not require probable cause or reasonable suspicion. (Montoya de Hernandez (1985) 473 U.S. 531, 538.)

    Border Patrol agents may also stop vehicles at reasonably located, fixed, permanent checkpoints many miles away from the border without any individualized or reasonable suspicion that the particular vehicle contains illegal aliens. (Martinez-Fuerte (1976) 428 U.S. 543, 562.) This is so because the procedure is routinely and evenly applied to all vehicles. (Hernandez (9th Cir. 1984) 739 F.2d 484, 486-487.)
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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