December 4, 2012 By Wallin & Klarich

Recently a Hawthorne man was arrested and spent four days in jail for tape recording the police during a traffic stop. However, all charges were dismissed against him.


Illinois had a law that stated that if you tape recorded a police officer you could be convicted of a felony and sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. However, the United States Court of Appeals recently ruled the law to be unconstitutional.

It appears that tape recording a police officer when he encounters you, is similar to asking the officer for his name and badge number. However, a key issue is what will be the impact when you tell the officer that you are recording his conversation with you. You would certainly hope that by telling the officer you are recording everything that is going on it would mean that the police officer would not violate your constitutional rights. The officer would also know he better be careful when he writes his police report because there is a “tape” of what was actually said.

On the other hand, many police officers will get upset and likely act unprofessional when you inform them you are tape recording them. The Hawthorne man found out the hard way that if you exercise your legal rights you might find yourself in jail. Even if the charges are dismissed against you that does not erase your time in jail.

In a free country you would sure hope that you would be able to “hit record” when you are approached by a police officer. However, the consequences of doing so have to be taken into consideration.

If you are stopped by an officer, be cooperative, and document to the extent possible, everything the officer does or requests of you. Remember, most officers may know general police procedure, but they are not schooled in many of the constitutional requirements of the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments. Wallin and Klarich has over 30 years of experience in dealing with all types of criminal and traffic charges. When your freedom is at stake contact the California Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich at 888-280-6839 or visit our website We have offices in Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange Counties. We will be there when you call.

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