Rancho Santa Margarita, CA asked in Criminal Law, Cannabis & Marijuana Law, Communications Law and Entertainment / Sports for California

Q: Legality of filming illegal activities as a reporter?

Hi my girlfriend and I plan on starting an investigative journalism based YouTube account. We want to shoot a video called, “A look into the black market cannabis scene.” For this video we plan to interview black market cannabis dealers who work with cartels along with filming their operation. My question is is it legal for my girlfriend and I to be filming illegal crime operations as reporters and will the people we are interviewing be protected?

Edit: I appreciate the quick answer that we will be safe, I forgot to add that we will be hiding the identities of our interviewees with masks and we will be changing their voices, can the police force us to give up the identities of the people we are interviewing?

3 Lawyer Answers
David Michael Lehr
David Michael Lehr
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Ventura, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You are safe. They are definitely not!

1 user found this answer helpful

Dale S. Gribow
Dale S. Gribow
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Palm Desert, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: more info needed.

if what they are doing is illegal they would be foolish to allow you to film.........and I doubt that it would be safe for you.............you may see something you were not supposed to see. and.........................................

Rhonda Mae Hixon
Rhonda Mae Hixon
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Redding, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: As long as you don't aid, abet, facilitate, or encourage criminal conduct you commit no crime by your investigative reporting, and the 1st Amendment (freedom of the press) offers some protection against being forced to reveal information or confidential sources in writing stories that deal with matters of public importance.

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