Q: Is it illegal to video record a physical fight happening in the living room of a home, when they live in the living room
I’ve had a problem with my roommates who are married. They keep fighting at extremely high volume, and get physical with each other. I’ve physically seen the man on top of her holding her down, appearing to be choking her. They have been hitting each other. Breaking things. All within direct vicinity of their 7 year old child. But when the cops get called, they all deny it. They even tell their daughter she has to lie to the police and say she was asleep. Seems like a pretty bad abusive situation. The 3 of them live in the down stairs living room, including their daughter. They have a mattress on the floor, and a section of a couch for the daughter to sleep on. There is no door in front of their living area. It shares the space with the stairway. My question is, if I hear them physically fighting, and when I walk by the stairs, see them physically fighting, is there any law prohibiting me from video recording the physical fighting? Would this be useful in getting charges made?
A: If they live in your home, there is a workable argument to make that your roommates essentially assume the risk that you would see, record and report any of their misconduct. This could be likened to laws that note that, generally speaking, someone can wear a wire while police are recording and the person wearing the wire can enter someone's home with lawful consent and anything that is recorded during the conversation can be potential admissible evidence. The legal understanding here is that the person providing any sort of confession to the person who was wearing a wire simply assumed the risk that the things they confessed could be used against them.
Now, this is all hypothetical, as these types of scenarios are very fact-dependent. So, again, take this advice generally. That said, even if the police could use your recording of a fight, you could potentially subject yourself to civil liability. Again, fact-dependent. Proceed at your own risk.
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