What Should You Do If HPD Asks for Ring Doorbell Footage?

14 Mar 2023
Greco Neyland, PC

Many Texas homeowners install security cameras and many more install Ring video doorbells. Ring doorbells allow a homeowner to see, interact with, and record anyone approaching the door for any reason.

Most of the time, the only person who sees a homeowner’s security camera footage or Ring footage is the homeowner. Yet occasionally, police want the information recorded on those cameras. Is it a good idea to give it to them? Have you already done so without realizing it?

Here’s what you need to know.

Never Give a Voluntary Recording Without a Warrant

As a matter of principle, you should make police cough up a warrant when they want anything from you, including security camera footage or Ring camera footage.

You may think they are after some third-party porch pirate, but you never know. Police officers lie. They may be trying to establish a timeline that establishes your whereabouts. In addition, these devices record conversations that you might not want the police to hear.

Don’t even give it to them through a service like Neighbors by Ring. You have no way of knowing who they’re after.

Most people are good people who just want to help; we understand if you also have that impulse. Yet if your specific doorbell data or security camera footage data will make or break their case, they should have no problem convincing a judge that they need it.

Police May Take the Data Anyway

Amazon admits to giving Ring footage to police departments upon “emergency” request. There wasn’t a process for judges or device owners to determine whether an emergency actually existed.

Ring claims to distinguish between an ongoing, nonurgent investigation and a “Request for Assistance,” a request which might be extremely time-sensitive. They require police to tell them who is in immediate danger and how having the Ring data might help them respond to the emergency.

In addition, law enforcement often subpoenas Amazon or Ring to get the data they want.

Federal law already makes it possible to sidestep the warrant process for an emergency situation if there is an immediate danger of death or serious bodily harm to any person if law enforcement is aware of conspiratorial acts that threaten national security, or if law enforcement is aware of conspiratorial activities characteristic of organized crime.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer May Challenge the Evidence or Use It

If law enforcement failed to follow the law when they obtained your video evidence, we can file a Motion to Suppress. If we’re successful, law enforcement won’t be able to use the evidence against you.

In some cases, you might want to provide the data to us. We could use the data to help you establish an alibi.

Police will continue to attempt to get as much data from technology as possible. It’s important to be vigilant about the amount of surveillance you’re under and to understand your rights when police officers wish to tap into that information.

See also:

How Law Enforcement Could Use Messenger Apps Against You in Your Houston, TX Criminal Case

Can HPD Enter Your Home Without a Warrant?

How Social Media Can Impact Your Houston, TX Criminal Case

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