My friend's house was broken into today, and he captured video of the burglar on his Nest Cam.

It alerted him of movement inside his house via his phone, and when he checked the video stream, he saw the perpetrator in the act.

He called 911, who sent police very quickly. They caught the burglar in the act and arrested him at gunpoint.

My dad, who is a professor of Criminology, wants to show the video to his students for educational purposes. Is there any legal reason why he couldn't do that?

The officers who arrived told my friend that the burglar is 16 years old, if that matters. He can be seen in the video noticing the camera, but clearly he wasn't explicitly informed that he was being recorded.

This is in Austin, TX, USA.


I presume that Dad will check with the college attorneys, so this is for information purposes only. Smith v. Daily Mail 443 U.S. 97 concerns a newspaper which published the name of a minor arrested for allegedly murdering someone (having legally obtained that information). SCOTUS held that

The State cannot, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, punish the truthful publication of an alleged juvenile delinquent's name lawfully obtained by a newspaper. The asserted state interest in protecting the anonymity of the juvenile offender to further his rehabilitation cannot justify the statute's imposition of criminal sanctions for publication of a juvenile's name lawfully obtained

There was a state law prohibiting a newspaper from publishing a minor's name involved in a criminal proceeding – it specifically singled out newspapers, hence the holding includes the mention of newspapers, but the footnotes in the case indicate that they "don't need to go there" (the equal protection question was unanswered), because "First Amendment rights prevail over the State's interest in protecting juveniles". The First Amendment right would be the same, applied to video, and classroom use.

  • He could just post it on Youtube. – Digital fire Sep 23 '16 at 20:08

While the matter is sub judice, showing the video in public would be contempt of court.

In most jurisdictions (I cannot speak specifically for Texas) identifying a minor who is accused or convicted of an offence is itself an offence. If there is anything in the video which could identify the person that could be a problem. Note that this means more than just being able to see their face: they could be identified by their clothes, stance and manner of walking etc.

  • However, Texas being in the US and owing to the First Amendment, this would not actually be contempt of court. – user6726 Sep 23 '16 at 4:11
  • You also can't be in contempt unless the court has personal jurisdiction over you somehow - for example, if you are a party to the case, or are actually present in the courtroom at the time. – D M Jan 26 '20 at 20:36

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