What Are the Policies Dictating the Public Release of Crime Scene Photos?


Quick Answer

Nine states enacted legal statutes limiting the distribution and use of crime scene photographs, including California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Texas, as of 2015. State policies include limiting access to crime scene photos to law enforcement, those involved in court proceedings, government agencies and a decedent's surviving spouse or next of kin.

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Full Answer

Laws limiting public access to crime scene photos are in place to protect the privacy of crime victims and their families. Connecticut and North Dakota have the shortest statutes, proclaiming all images taken of crime scene victims are exempt from public disclosure. North Dakota goes one step further and includes images of sex crime victims. In California, no persons or entities are allowed access to coroner death scene photos outside of those using the photos for criminal investigations and court proceedings. The Minnesota statute declares that offensive photos from inactive crime scenes remain private, but the existence of these photos are made known to persons requesting access to inactive case files.

Some states, such as Florida and Georgia, give the courts the power to authorize public disclosure of crime scene photos at its discretion. In Florida, courts can allow anyone access to copies of crime photos if the court deems there is good cause for such a release. Georgia courts can determine if the release of photos is in the public's interest, which overrides privacy concerns.

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