Visible home surveillance cameras can provide a positive deterrence against would be home invaders, crime, speeders and theft. In Virginia, you are free to record video as long as it’s not done where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy and as long as you are not recording any audio.
I am not a lawyer and you should not take this as legal advice, however, the law is very straight forward.
Do not record any person who is in any state of undress while inside a restroom, dressing room, locker room, hotel room, motel room, tanning booth, bedroom or other location.
Do not place the camera between someones legs to capture their private parts.
Do not record anywhere where the person would have reasonable expectations of privacy (but also while in a state of undress as outlined in sections i and ii). For example, one would have a reasonable expectation of privacy while using your own private bathroom in your own home. Just because it’s your home does not mean you can violate one’s expected privacy.
For the most part, law enforcement is exempt.
What can your record?
There are no laws covering what you can and can not record when in public or at your home, with the exception of recording audio and with the exception of recording in a place where you would expect some level of privacy (such as a private bathroom). Your best bet is to record only video to avoid any potential audio wire-tapping violations.
As for recording video in the public, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when you are in the public, at a park, walking down the streets, on public roads and in public places that are not considered “private”, such as bathrooms or dressing rooms. If this was otherwise not the case, there would be no news, no media, and no social media.
If you do not wish to be recorded your best bet is to stay inside your home and close your blinds. If you go out in public, all bets are off.
strong>What does the law say?
§ 18.2-386.1. Unlawful creation of image of another; penalty.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally create any videographic or still image by any means whatsoever of any nonconsenting person if (i) that person is totally nude, clad in undergarments, or in a state of undress so as to expose the genitals, pubic area, buttocks or female breast in a restroom, dressing room, locker room, hotel room, motel room, tanning bed, tanning booth, bedroom or other location; or (ii) the videographic or still image is created by placing the lens or image-gathering component of the recording device in a position directly beneath or between a person’s legs for the purpose of capturing an image of the person’s intimate parts or undergarments covering those intimate parts when the intimate parts or undergarments would not otherwise be visible to the general public; and when the circumstances set forth in clause (i) or (ii) are otherwise such that the person being recorded would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any videographic or still image created by any means whatsoever by (i) law-enforcement officers pursuant to a criminal investigation which is otherwise lawful or (ii) correctional officials and local or regional jail officials for security purposes or for investigations of alleged misconduct involving a person committed to the Department of Corrections or to a local or regional jail, or to any sound recording of an oral conversation made as a result of any videotaping or filming pursuant to Chapter 6 (§ 19.2-61 et seq.) of Title 19.2.
C. A violation of subsection A shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
D. A violation of subsection A involving a nonconsenting person under the age of 18 shall be punishable as a Class 6 felony.
E. Where it is alleged in the warrant, information, or indictment on which the person is convicted and found by the court or jury trying the case that the person has previously been convicted within the 10-year period immediately preceding the offense charged of two or more of the offenses specified in this section, each such offense occurring on a different date, and when such offenses were not part of a common act, transaction, or scheme, and such person has been at liberty as defined in § 53.1-151 between each conviction, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
1994, c. 640; 2004, c. 844; 2005, c. 375; 2008, c. 732; 2014, c. 399.