The beautiful coastal state of Maine, known for its stunning beaches, historic lighthouses, and delicious lobster, is a favorite destination for many. Yet, even in such an idyllic setting, property crime remains an issue. Security systems, particularly security cameras, are beneficial in protecting properties, but it’s crucial to understand the laws governing their use and installation. In this article, we’ll delve into Maine’s security camera laws, the penalties for violating these laws, and answer common questions like, “Can I install a security camera in my home or business in Maine?” We’ll also offer tips to ensure your security camera’s legality.
What are the Security Camera Laws in Maine?
While Maine doesn’t have specific laws on security camera use, general surveillance laws provide guidance.
Visual Surveillance and Invasion of Privacy
Maine’s invasion of privacy laws, found in Title 17-A, §511, prohibit visual surveillance in situations where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as homes or offices. This legislation applies to all types of surveillance, including security cameras. It’s important to install security cameras in places where people do not expect privacy, like your business’s common areas or publicly accessible spaces.
Avoid installing cameras in private spaces like bathrooms, dressing rooms, or locker rooms. If you unintentionally capture someone in a private area, you may face charges for invasion of privacy, irrespective of your intentions.
Maine is a Two-Party Consent State
Maine is a “two-party consent” state, as per Title 15, §709, meaning that all parties in a conversation must consent to its recording. Consequently, if your security camera records audio, every individual in the conversation must be aware of and consent to the recording. Signs informing employees and customers about the audio recording can facilitate obtaining this consent.
Penalties for Violating Maine Security Camera Laws
Penalties for breaking Maine’s security camera laws depend on the specific violation. Besides facing criminal charges, you could also be sued in civil court by the recorded person.
Penalties for Violating Maine’s Invasion of Privacy Law
Violating Maine’s privacy law (Title 17-A, §511) incurs the following penalties:
- First offense: Class D crime punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
- Second and subsequent offenses: Class C crime punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Penalties for Violating Maine’s Two-Party Consent Law
Violations of Maine’s two-party consent law (Title 15, §709) constitute a Class C crime, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Can I Install a Security Camera in My Maine Home?
Yes, installing security cameras in your Maine home is allowed provided you respect the state’s privacy laws. Avoid recording in private areas, such as bedrooms or bathrooms, and if the camera records audio, ensure you have all parties’ consent.
Remember, the camera should not point into your neighbor’s yard or windows. Posting a notice about your CCTV operation can also help ensure compliance.
Can I Install a Security Camera in My Maine Business?
Installing security cameras in your Maine business is permissible, again respecting Maine’s privacy laws. Be certain your cameras do not record private areas like bathrooms or locker rooms, and obtain consent for audio recording.
In Maine, business owners may use video surveillance to monitor activities inside their business, helping to prevent theft or vandalism. Signs informing employees and customers about the ongoing recording are advisable.
How to File a Complaint for Security Camera Law Violations in Maine
If you suspect someone is violating Maine’s security camera laws, you can file a complaint with your local law enforcement or the district attorney’s office. You also have the option of filing a civil lawsuit.