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Ask Dave Kennett Your Own Question

Dave Kennett
Dave Kennett, Lawyer (JD)
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27686
Experience:  25 years experience in general law, including real estate, criminal, traffic, and domestic relations
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My son took some photos of girls at the beach without their

Customer Question

My son took some photos of girls at the beach without their knowledge and someone saw him and reported to the cops. The cops asked for his camera and to search his car but he wouldn't let them do either. They said they don't want to see him at the beach again and that his name will be in the local newspaper etc etc but they did not charge him with anything. I am concerned about his name being in the paper. Can the newpaper write this story even if he wasn't charged with anything?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dave Kennett replied 1 year ago.
Dear JACUSTOMER - First of all, it is not illegal to take pictures in a public place whether the subjects of the photos like it or not so no crime was committed. If this is a public beach he has a right to be there unless he has caused some disturbance that is violating the law and if he is actually harassing other people with his photography he could theoretically be charged with some type of crime of disorderly conduct so he needs to be careful if he returns. As for his name in the paper, if the police file some type of report it will be public information and the press has a right to print whatever if chooses to print by virtue of the First Amendment protections guaranteed the press. I can't imagine how this incident would have any importance if he wasn't charged with a crime but if the police file a report and it is public then the press can choose to print it.
Dave Kennett, Lawyer (JD)
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27686
Experience: 25 years experience in general law, including real estate, criminal, traffic, and domestic relations
Dave Kennett and 3 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Was just wondering if it's not illegal to take pictures of people in a public place, why did the cops approach my son and harass him in the first place? and then threaten him with all sorts of action besides telling him he cannot come to the beach again-
Expert:  Dave Kennett replied 1 year ago.
That's typical of cops but if the actions of taking the pictures are in some harassing way there could be a charge of some other crime. Photography is not prohibited but you can't get in someone's face with a lens etc. So it always depends on the circumstances. Unless there is a court order the cops don't control public places however if he goes back and gets arrested then he will have the problem of having to defend himself in court, guilty or not guilty.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Lastly, my son was in his car when he took the pictures and soneone saw him and reported him to the police. He never got out of his car. He was polite to the cops but did not answer any accusations and did not let them into his car nor did he get out of his car. He is a shy person and was very traumatized by the threats made by the cops. I do not feel they had the right to harass him when he had done nothing but take a couple of photos through his car window. Is it possible to have the police report wiped if they were in the wrong? My son is devastated that his name might be in the local paper. He has never been in any trouble before. Thank you for your time and expert advice.
Expert:  Dave Kennett replied 1 year ago.
If he is 18 or older he would have to deal with this on his own or get an attorney. If he is a juvenile you can contact the chief of police and file a complaint against the officer involved. This may cause the cops to forget about filing a report but it could also backfire if they want to take him to task and make an issue out of it which would add to the publicity. It really doesn't sound like much of a story that would interest the press but obviously I have no way to know what they may print. In any event, about the only practical thing you or he can do is file a complaint with the police department and claim he was harassed while doing a perfectly legal activity.

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