The Security Camera Laws in North Carolina

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North Carolina, with its rich history and picturesque landscapes, is a haven for both residents and tourists. Yet, just like any other place, ensuring safety and security is paramount. As a result, many people consider installing security cameras in their homes or businesses. If you’re one of them, you have to get a little familiar with the security camera laws in North Carolina. Let’s dive in.

1. What are the Security Camera Laws in North Carolina?

Security cameras can be a fantastic deterrent against unwelcome guests and provide peace of mind. However, before you go mounting cameras all over your property, it’s essential to be aware of some key North Carolina laws to ensure you’re on the right side of legality.

Video Recording Laws

In general, it’s legal to record video footage in North Carolina without consent, so long as it’s done in areas where there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Here’s the gist:

  • Public Areas: Places like your storefront or your front yard? Generally, you’re good to go. There’s typically no expectation of privacy in these areas.
  • Private Areas: This includes places like bathrooms, bedrooms, and dressing rooms. Filming here without consent can lead you into some murky waters, both legally and ethically.

Audio Recording Laws

Here’s where things can get a tad tricky. North Carolina is a “one-party consent” state per N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-287. This means if you want to record a conversation, at least one person involved in that conversation (which can be you) must know it’s being recorded.

So, if your security camera has audio recording capabilities:

  • Inform: If the camera’s indoors, it’s a good practice to inform individuals they’re being audio-recorded.
  • Consent: If someone’s having a private conversation and they don’t know you’re recording, that could be illegal eavesdropping. Be careful!

Residential vs. Commercial Installations

For homeowners, the primary concern is respecting privacy areas. As a business owner, however, you’ve got additional concerns:

  • Employee Privacy: You can monitor employees for business purposes, but it’s good practice (and sometimes required) to let them know they’re being recorded.
  • Customer Privacy: While customers in a store typically don’t have a strong expectation of privacy, avoid installing cameras in places like restrooms or changing rooms.


Although it’s not a strict requirement, putting up a sign indicating that surveillance is in progress can be a good idea. It serves as a deterrent and also informs people, minimizing potential legal quibbles.

Always remember that the rapid advancement of technology might outpace the laws, so it’s always a smart idea to periodically check with a local attorney or review current North Carolina statutes to ensure your security setup remains compliant.

security camera laws in North Carolina


2. Other North Carolina Laws Related to Security Cameras

You also should be aware of all the pertinent laws when you’re getting your security camera system up and running. Here’s a rundown of other North Carolina laws that could potentially affect your installation:

  • Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-287): This is the primary law concerning audio recording. Remember, North Carolina is a one-party consent state. If your security camera captures audio, you or another party in the conversation must be aware and consent to the recording.
  • Harassment and Stalking Laws (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-277.3A): While intended to catch stalkers, this law can also apply if you’re using cameras to intentionally harass or stalk someone. Place cameras in a way that respects people’s privacy and doesn’t infringe on their rights.
  • Trespassing Laws (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-159.13): Make sure your cameras are installed on property you own or have permission to use. Installing cameras on someone else’s property could get you charged with trespassing.
  • Peeping Laws (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-202): This law prohibits secret peeping and photographing without consent in places where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like bathrooms or bedrooms. Make sure your cameras are not aimed at these sensitive areas unless explicit consent is provided.
  • Video Voyeurism (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.9): Like the peeping laws, video voyeurism laws in North Carolina prohibit capturing images for sexual purposes without consent. Security cameras should never be placed in areas where people undress or in any intimate settings without explicit permission.

Knowing the ins and outs of these laws will make sure you’re bulletproof—legally speaking—when you set up your new security system. Always err on the side of caution, and when in doubt, consult with a legal advisor. Happy securing!

3. Penalties for Breaking the Security Camera Laws in North Carolina

Violators of North Carolina’s security camera statutes may face grave consequences.

  • Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-287): Intercepting, using, or disclosing the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication without the knowledge of at least one party to the communication is considered a Class H felony. If convicted, an individual could face penalties that range from community service to several months in prison, depending on their prior criminal record.
  • Harassment and Stalking Laws (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-277.3A): Stalking, which includes using cameras for harassment, is considered a Class A1 misdemeanor for a first conviction and a Class H felony for subsequent convictions. Penalties can range from community service and probation for misdemeanors up to several months in prison for felonies, depending on the specifics of the case and prior offenses.
  • Trespassing Laws (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-159.13): Trespassing, when done willfully on the land, water surface, or premises of another person, is categorized as a Class 2 misdemeanor. If convicted, the penalties can range from community service and probation to a few weeks to months in jail, depending on prior offenses.
  • Peeping Laws (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-202): Secretly peeping into a room occupied by another person without their consent is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. If images are taken while peeping, the penalty elevates to a Class I felony. Convictions could lead to penalties ranging from community service and probation for misdemeanors up to several months in prison for felonies, depending on prior offenses.
  • Video Voyeurism (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.9): Disseminating images obtained through video voyeurism without the depicted person’s consent is a Class H felony. If the individual being recorded is a minor, it elevates to a Class G felony. Penalties for a conviction can range from several months to years in prison, especially if the subject is a minor.

installing a security camera

4. Can I Install a Security Camera in My North Carolina Home?

Yes, installing a security camera in your North Carolina residence is permissible, provided you don’t infringe on someone else’s privacy rights. Remember the single-party consent rule when recording audio.

  • Respect Privacy: While you may want to cover every inch of your property, there are places where recording is a no-go—think bathrooms, guest bedrooms, or any space where someone would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
  • Audio Recording: North Carolina’s single-party consent rule means if you want to record a conversation, at least one party involved should be aware. If your security camera captures audio, be sure you or someone in the recording knows it’s happening.
  • Living in a Community:
    • Apartments and Condos: Your neighbors are just a wall away! If you’re mounting cameras outside, make sure they focus solely on your living space.
    • Homeowners’ Associations: Some HOAs have strict rules about modifications to the home exterior, including camera installations. Always check the by-laws.
    Residence Type Action Required
    Apartments Check with property management.
    Condos Review condo association guidelines.
    HOA Homes Confirm with HOA by-laws.

5. Can I Install a Security Camera in My North Carolina Business?

Absolutely. Installing security cameras in your North Carolina business isn’t just allowed; it’s a smart strategy. By providing an extra layer of security, you show dedication to the safety of both your employees and clients. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Purpose is Key: Always ensure that your cameras serve a valid business purpose, like theft prevention or employee safety. Wanton surveillance without a clear reason can land you in hot water.
  • Notify Employees and Clients:
    • Signage: Place clear signs at entrances or high-traffic areas. This not only informs but can deter potential wrongdoers.
    • Employee Handbook: It’s a good practice to include a section about surveillance in your employee handbook. This way, everyone’s on the same page from day one.
    Audience Notification Method
    Employees Employee Handbook & Signage
    Clients Clear Signage at Entrances

6. How to File a Complaint in North Carolina

Feeling like your privacy has been compromised is a disheartening experience. Fortunately, in North Carolina, there are measures in place to address potential breaches of security camera laws. If you suspect someone is playing fast and loose with the regulations, it’s crucial to take action. Here’s how to ensure your voice is heard:

Gather All Necessary Information

Before you approach the authorities, ensure you have all the facts in order. Detailed information is the backbone of any successful complaint.

Information Checklist:

  • Violator’s Details: Full name and address.
  • Incident Specifics: Date, time, and location.
  • Event Description: A thorough and factual account of what transpired.
  • Evidence: Photos, videos, or other forms of evidence that support your claim.
  • Witnesses: Names and contact details of anyone who may have seen or heard the incident.

Visit Your Local Police Station

Head over to your nearest police station to lodge your complaint. While the idea may seem intimidating, remember that the officers are there to assist. Approach the process as a collaboration.

Seek Legal Counsel (If Necessary)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or if the situation feels complicated, it’s never a bad idea to get a legal expert on board. They can offer:

  • Guidance: On how to properly file your complaint.
  • Insight: On the potential legal repercussions for the violator.
  • Support: In case the issue escalates and requires legal proceedings.

Understanding Outcomes

Submitting a complaint doesn’t automatically translate to a court case. The police will conduct their investigations, and based on their findings, further action may or may not be taken.

Outcome What It Means
Case Filed The police found enough evidence, and legal proceedings will commence.
More Investigation Needed The police require more time or evidence to decide on the next steps.
No Case Filed The police did not find sufficient evidence to proceed with a case.

Stay Updated

After filing a complaint, don’t just wait in the dark. Keep in touch with the investigating officer to stay updated on the progress.

Remember Your Rights

In North Carolina, your right to privacy is paramount. Whether you’re the one with a camera or the one on camera, understanding and respecting the boundaries is essential for harmonious living. If ever in doubt, seek guidance. Your peace of mind is worth it!


Installing security cameras in North Carolina can provide peace of mind, but understanding the law is paramount. These regulations exist to balance safety and privacy. Hence, when thinking about camera installation, familiarize yourself with the rules and always respect individual rights.

Security Camera Laws in Other States


Do I need a permit for security cameras in my North Carolina business?

No, you do not need a permit to install security cameras in your North Carolina business. However, it’s essential to ensure that they are placed in public areas and not in spaces where individuals expect privacy, such as restrooms.

Can you video-record someone without their consent in North Carolina?

Yes, you can video-record someone without their consent in North Carolina as long as the recording is made in a place where there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy. However, if the recording captures audio, remember that North Carolina is a one-party consent state, meaning at least one person in the conversation must be aware of the recording.

Are hidden cameras illegal in North Carolina?

Hidden cameras are not inherently illegal in North Carolina. However, their use becomes illegal when they are placed in areas where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as bathrooms or bedrooms, or when used for malicious purposes like harassment or voyeurism.

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