Using Video Evidence in Court
You invested in security video cameras, certain your investment paid off when you caught a thief in the act. But when the video evidence was presented in court, it was found to be inadmissible. What went wrong?
Assuring your Video Evidence can be used in Court
The United States legal system sets strict standards for handling evidence, including video evidence and photographic evidence.
To assure video evidence has been properly obtained, stored, and managed, the courts needs to know:
- the source of the video
- the technology used to obtain the video
- how the video file was maintained
- who handled the video file
- any alterations to the video file
If any of those issues are unclear, the video may not be admitted.
The Proper Care and Preservation of Video Evidence
Having a policy for proper collection and preservation of video evidence assures its authenticity. In turn, this increases the likelihood of your video evidence being admitted into the courts.
Start with High-Quality Video
Don’t try to get by with inexpensive cameras. Higher camera resolution improves the possibility of clear identification. Learn about the differences between IP and HP-Analog video cameras in our free Buyer’s Guide.
Position Cameras Correctly
There is both an art and a science to proper camera placement in a retail setting. A professionally designed and installed surveillance system is worth the investment. Top theft locations, such as high end merchandise aisles and cash registers need to be visible from several angles.
From morning to night, the lighting in your business can change dramatically. To ensure camera clarity, locations should consider lighting issues or adopt cameras who can compensate for low light.
Checking Time Stamps
One issue with admissibility of surveillance videos is a time stamp error. Time stamps should be checked after daylight savings, after a power failure, and reprogramming. Verify the time stamp on your videos is accurate.
Many network video recorders (NVRs) store video for a short time and then overwrite it. When investigating theft (or even suspicion of theft), have a procedure for collecting video footage to avoid losing video evidence.
Keep it Real
Resist the temptation to change the contrast or other aspects. Altering your video suggests it may be inaccurate. Saving the footage in the original file format helps you meet what’s known as the “best evidence rule.”
We have designed our DIGIOP software to assure the admissibility of videos. Our expertise offers:
- Project management for camera placement and installation
- Consultation on the best video camera options for your business
- ELEMENTS, our core video management system, stores your videos on a network video recorder (NVR)
- DIGIOP CARBON preserves POS data paired with associated video in the cloud
- CARBON also creates case management files, allowing you to zip files with POS data, time stamps, and video into an attachment. You can share the compiled evidence with HR or local law enforcement.