If a friend was recently arrested for shoplifting $69 worth of merchandise and the police came an questioned here, which was videotaped, does she have a right to a copy of that tape?

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If a friend was recently arrested for shoplifting $69 worth of merchandise and the police came an questioned here, which was videotaped, does she have a right to a copy of that tape?

It is a Class C misdemeanor. She was stopped by security while leaving, came back cordially and respectfully and was forth-coming that she had indeed stolen the items. Security held her in their office and said they were being video recorded. They called the local police which dispatched 2 officers who proceeded to ask her why she committed the theft, which she answered. They also accusingly asked her “so, what other items have you stolen from other Walmarts before you were caught today?”. She was never read her her Miranda rights. The cops were verbally abusive and even cursed during the arrest. How can she obtain a copy of the video? Will that help her?

Asked on October 22, 2015 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If she was detained by law enforcement, then she would have a right to have her Miranda warning read to her.  So... any statements that she made to law enforcement would be subject to being thrown out at court.  The issue would next become, whether the statements that she made to security would also be subject to supression.  Normally, Miranda is limited to law enforcement, but there have been a few occassions where it is applied to other types of enforcement agencies. 
Your friend's attorney needs to make a motion for discovery for the patrol videos and issue a subpoena for the Walmart videos.    From there, her attorney can review the documents and file the appropriate motions to exclude the statements.
All of this may or may not, eventually help your friend.  If a video in the store shows her committing the act (red-handed), then she may still be found guilty despite the suppresssion of the statements.
However, if the conduct by law enforcement was truly horrible, then this can be a mitigating factor-- as prosecutors usually shy away from taking cases to court that involve poor police conduct.  This could mean a dismissal or a reduced punishment. 


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