During police questioning, officers may mention they have video evidence of a crime. While this information might be accurate, it does not necessarily prove that you are guilty of the crime they are discussing with you.
Understanding the pitfalls of video evidence in court might encourage defendants to pursue a trial instead of admitting to crimes they may not have committed.
1. The video quality is low
From cell phones to security cameras, the quality of video recordings varies. Things such as the amount of light, distance from the scene and quality of the recording equipment all impact an image. If video recordings do not provide a clear picture of the defendant, claiming something resembles the defendant may not be enough to prove guilt in court.
2. The defense can not rule out tampering
While video equipment has advanced over the years, so has access to editing software. These editing programs allow people to change, delete and add images to videos. Many times, only a technology expert can identify edits. When an outside source brings evidence to the police, experts should analyze the video for tampering.
3. The police obtained the video illegally
Police must follow the law when gathering evidence by obtaining warrants. According to the New Jersey Constitution Article 1 Section 7, any evidence collected without a warrant or probable cause is not admissible in court. This means if officers illegally collected the video evidence or other evidence that led to the video, prosecutors could not show the video to judges or juries reviewing your case.
While videos may capture a crime, there is no guarantee that it proves a person’s guilt. People should not assume the courts will find them guilty until the case goes through trial.