Video Surveillance and The Law

In general, most video recordings are legal in the U.S. with or without consent. It is our belief that this includes video surveillance performed by a private investigator for purposes of documenting adultery, infidelity and unfaithful spouses.

Laws do exist regarding “Invasion of Privacy” which deals with the area of expected privacy. These include areas such as bathrooms, locker rooms, changing/dressing rooms, bedrooms and other areas where a person should expect a high level of personal privacy.

Video Surveillance

While the majority of laws dealing with video recording privacy issues tend to allow surreptitious recording and monitoring of video activity under most circumstances without notification of any of the parties involved, it is highly recommended that you consult with your local or state law enforcement or an attorney who specializes in this area to comply with all local and regulations prior to utilization of video surveillance and monitoring.

Your private investigator is well versed in such laws and as a rule of thumb; you should not have to worry about this when hiring a professional investigator. Nonetheless, this may affect your case in some ways. It is important that you realize that unlike Hollywood’s version of spousal surveillance, we will not peek into windows, hide in the bathroom, put a micro-camera under the door, etc. Will we NOT plant hidden cameras in cars, bedrooms or other places either.

Some General Guidelines on video surveillance:

Covert video surveillance is illegal when:

  • The subject has a reasonable expectation of privacy (4th Amendment rights) i.e. in a bathroom; motel room; changing room
  • If audio eavesdropping is also taking place

Covert surveillance may be illegal when:

  • The person with authority over the premises has not consented
  • The reason for the video surveillance fosters an illegal purpose

Covert video surveillance should be avoided when:

  • A less intrusive, legal investigative method is equally available.
  • Whenever you feel uncertain about the legality or ethics of installation.

Note: the above information is based on the opinions and interpretation of the author and is for general informational purposes. This is NOT legal advice. Do not rely on any of this information without verifying same with your attorney.