Can your cell phone or camera be confiscated? - - Jackson, MS

Can your cell phone or camera be confiscated?

Posted: Updated:
HINDS COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

If you see a crime or incident unfold in front of you and you record it on your cell phone or camera, can authorities stop you or even take your property?

That was the dilemma one viewer faced recently.

A shopper, who does not want to be identified, was shocked by seeing the aftermath of a stabbing inside the Clinton Walmart Saturday.

"She went passed registers and collapsed," said the Walmart shopper.

But even more disturbing to him was what he said followed.

The man said after attempting to shoot video outside of the ambulance leaving he was approached by authorities.

"At that point a fireman came up to me and said 'You can't take video' and I said 'Why not' and he said 'We can't let you take video'. I said I didn't capture anything and he said 'Well let me see'. So I showed him my cell phone," said the shopper.

He then said the fireman proceeded to call over a police officer who asked to see the video.

They allowed him to leave when he proved he had not recorded the actual incident.

But what if he had?

"You clearly have a right, certainly on public property to film. Now if you're on private property in a store for example, the store could tell you to leave," said Raycom Media Attorney Leonard Van Slyke.

The First Amendment attorney is not personally familiar with this specific case, but can speak to a person's constitutional rights.

Van Slyke said law officers can not take your cell phone or camera without a court order.

In some instances citizens have recorded police and reported that they have been threatened with having their phones or cameras confiscated.

The legal expert has this to say.

"If the issue is they're seizing the phone again that's deprivation of constitutional rights. If they delete the picture I think again a taking of property," said Van Slyke.

"I felt that they didn't have the right to take my phone," said the shopper.

The Walmart patron cooperated and was aware of his rights.

Legal experts say you can refuse to turn over your property to law officers, and if it is confiscated you have a right to sue.

The courts will then determine your damages.

©2011 WLBT. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow