Justin Bieber’s attorney, Roy Black, has filed a motion to block the release of the jail video after his arrest for DUI and drag racing. Various newspaper organizations have been making Public Record Requests for the video. The video in Bieber’s case would possibly show him being booked into the jail and potentially the Drug Influence Investigation which would include his performance on the Field Sobriety Exercises.
Florida has a very open sunshine laws that allow the public access to public records such as police and surveillance videos. There are exceptions that make certain public records exempt from Flroida’s sunshine laws. One of the exceptions to public records law is for “ongoing” criminal investigations. Sometimes, the sheriff will argue that releasing jail videos compromises security of the jail. The sheriff fears that inmates will get a copy of the video and learn where any “blind spots” may be located so that an booking deputy may be attacked or maybe somebody will attempt the “great escape” from the jail. The police try and stretch “ongoing” investigation to include any criminal case that has not been resolved by plea or trial. What is “ongoing” in a DUI case, introduction of contraband case, or battery on a law enforcement case after the arrest has been made? There is nothing left to investigate.
I run into the problem of a lack of a video in my criminal and DUI cases often. If you do not request the booking video of your DUI arrest in Polk County within 3-5 days, that valuable evidence demonstrating that your normal faculties were not impaired is lost forever! That video may show you walking, talking, bending over, changing shoes, getting your mugshot taken, and more which would prove you were not impaired. What about in a case where it is alleged a person arrested for some alleged crime is accused of having drugs on him when he is brought into the booking facility and the person denies that allegation? Instant replay of a video could be the best evidence of your innocence, so why wouldn’t the sheriff preserve that evidence? There was a case that went to trial a couple weeks ago in Polk County where the person was accused of hitting one of the booking deputies. The video was not preserved and it became the person’s word against the deputy. Is that fair? Is it fair that state law mandates the video be retained for 30 days, but PCSO’s video loop is less than 7 days?
If you have been arrested that booking video may make the biggest difference in whether your case is dismissed or you are found guilty of a felony or a DUI. If you have been arrested for a criminal offense in Polk County, you need to retain a lawyer that knows the police and procedures of local law enforcement, how to get the videos, what the videos may show, and how to argue your case should be dismissed if the video is not preserved.
Call and aggressive Polk criminal defense lawyer that will fight for you and your rights in court!
Thomas C. Grajek