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Is Cell Phone Video Admissible in Court in Ohio?

Posted On: January 23rd, 2023   |   Posted by: Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
Person recording scenery on phone

Cell phones are so pervasive that it is abnormal for anyone to leave their house without their phone. They are so common that it is also growing increasingly common for video footage of incidents and criminal activity to be used in court.

However, not all cell phone video footage is admissible. In this article, criminal defense attorney Ben Luftman provides more information about when you might utilize cell phone video, when cell video is admissible in court in Ohio, when it isn’t, and other important details about preparing a defense with cell phone video.

Cell Phone Video When You’re Charged with a Crime in Ohio

Cell phone video could provide valuable evidence to support your case if you are accused of a criminal offense. Some common crimes caught on cell phone videos include:

When is Cell Phone Video Admissible in Ohio?

Keep in mind that cell phone video may not always be admissible. You need to evaluate specific considerations before presenting cell phone video footage as evidence in court. Some of these factors include:

  • Whether the cell phone video could do more harm than good
  • Whether the cell phone video footage is relevant to your case
  • Whether the cell phone video is authentic and unedited
  • Where the cell phone video footage originated
  • Where the cell phone video footage was discovered
  • Whether the cell phone video contains audio

For cell phone video to be admissible in court, it must be authenticated and be considered valuable to your situation. Otherwise, introducing it could be more detrimental to your case than beneficial.

When is Cell Phone Video Not Admissible?

If your criminal defense attorney determines cell phone video footage should not be used, it is probably because the footage could damage your case. Other reasons why cell phone video footage may not be admissible include the following:

  • Lack of credibility
  • Lack of authenticity
  • Poor video lighting
  • Questions surrounding when the video was recorded
  • Questions surrounding where the video was filmed
  • Lack of consent for cell phone video footage recording
  • Violation of state wiretapping laws
  • The video footage contains hearsay
  • The video footage does not contain relevant information
  • The video footage is unfairly prejudicial to the defendant
  • Expert witnesses refute the cell phone video footage
  • Lack of sufficient character evidence
  • The cell phone video contains privileged information
  • Cell phone footage is considered misleading

Ohio is a One-Party Recording State

Due to Ohio’s one-party consent laws (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2933.52), you could face criminal charges if you use any device, including a cell phone, to share any communication or record another person without their consent. This includes taking photos, videos, or otherwise recording them.

In instances where cell phone video footage is inadmissible due to an audio recording and failure to obtain consent, by including only the visual video footage, your attorney may be able to get your cell phone video footage admitted into evidence.

Can You Subpoena a Person’s Cell Video?

In some instances, if your attorney believes that another person’s phone has valuable footage that supports your case, they may file a subpoena for the cell video in question. For example, a bystander might have recorded your interaction with police and caught a violation of your rights on camera. Or someone may have a video of the crime in progress that shows you weren’t in the area.

You can also obtain another’s cell phone video through a police search warrant or by asking the person who took the video.

Videos found online or via social media will need to be authenticated, or your lawyer will need to obtain the original cell phone video for it to be entered into evidence in your case.

When Would You Want to Exclude Video?

There are several circumstances where you may want to exclude or get cell video deemed inadmissible. Most notably, if the cell footage could be misinterpreted or misleading or do more harm to your case than good, getting the cell phone video evidence excluded will be a top priority.

You may also need to exclude video footage if Ohio’s one-party consent laws have been violated, as you could face criminal charges.

The Importance of Consulting with a Defense Attorney About Video Evidence

Understanding when cell phone video footage can and cannot support your case is critical as you prepare a defense strategy. When you have cell phone footage that could help you avoid conviction or reduce the charges, pointing your defense attorney in the direction of the video originator will be critical.

Your lawyer can then determine whether the video footage can be authenticated, whether any state or federal wiretapping or recording laws have been violated, and whether we should seek to get the video introduced or excluded from the record.

Your attorney will also be responsible for working to convince the judge and jury that the cell phone video footage should be taken seriously, establishing how the cell phone video footage exonerates you and obtaining other valuable evidence to support your case so it does not rely solely on cell phone video footage that may or may not help your case.

Contact a Columbus Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are charged with a crime and think cell phone video could support your case, contact an experienced Columbus criminal defense lawyer at Luftman, Heck & Associates.

We’ll set up a free and confidential case review. Call (614) 500-3836 or contact LHA online today.

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