Is there anything you have ever wanted to know from the police department? Well, this is your chance to ask. We will be teaming up with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies from around the county to answer your questions.
Whether you have a question about certain laws and how they might affect you, your family or friends or how to stay safe in certain situations, we want you to ask them. Every week we will run one question and answer. To submit a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have installed surveillance cameras around my property and now my neighbors would like to do the same thing. Are there any laws or restrictions we need to go by?
There are no laws or, or restrictions, for a private person to have video surveillance cameras around their property for the purposes of security. However, there are laws, and constitutional rights, regarding privacy.
The California Constitution contains a guarantee of privacy. For this right to be violated, video surveillance must fulfill three criteria:
- It constitutes an intrusion
- It intrudes in a location or context where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy
- It outweighs other interests by the gravity of the alleged violation
Most “eavesdropping” laws (California Penal Code sections 631, 632) expressly prohibit the unauthorized installation or use of cameras in private places. Installation or use of any device for photographing, observing or overhearing events, or sounds, in a private place without permission of the people photographed or observed is against the law. A private place is one where a person may reasonably expect to be safe from unauthorized surveillance. Such as locker rooms, restrooms, changing/dressing rooms, bedrooms, and other areas where a person should expect a high level of personal privacy. A private place could also be considered a backyard, or a window into a residence.
If your cameras are located on your property in plain view, are not in a private place, and do not violate any state or federal laws, it would appear they would be lawful.
—Michelle Burhans, Sheriff's Deputy