The Security Camera Laws in South Carolina: Everything You Need to Know

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South Carolina, with its stunning coastline and rich history, is not without its own concerns regarding property safety and security. For those interested in setting up security cameras in their homes or businesses within the state, understanding the local laws is essential. Let’s delve deeper.

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

Alright, South Carolinians! Before you mount that shiny new security camera at your home or business, let’s get familiar with our state’s laws. You want to keep our premises secure, but you also want to be on the right side of the law. Trust me, I’ve installed countless cameras, and a little knowledge goes a long way!


Video Recording

In the Palmetto State, video recording is generally allowed, especially in public places where there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy. So, if you’re aiming to keep an eye on the front yard or main entrance of your business, you’re in good territory. However, always remember – just because you can record doesn’t mean you should record everywhere. Avoid placing cameras in locations like bathrooms or dressing areas. It’s not only a breach of privacy, but it can also land you in hot water legally.

Audio Recording

This is where things get a tad tricky. South Carolina falls under the “one-party consent” category, as per S.C. Code Ann. § 17-30-30. This means at least one person in the conversation needs to be aware and consent to the recording. If your security camera has audio capabilities, be very cautious. Capturing a private chat between two individuals, where neither is aware, could be a legal misstep. If in doubt, I often suggest going video-only or placing clear signage informing folks that audio recording is in progress.

Signage and Notification

Speaking of signage, it’s not mandated by state law, but it’s a great practice. Clear signs stating that surveillance is in progress can act as a deterrent for wrongdoers. Plus, it keeps everyone informed and reduces any potential claims of privacy invasion.

Local Ordinances

Here’s a pro tip – always check with your local municipality or county. Even if state laws give the green light, some towns or cities might have their own regulations, especially when it comes to businesses. A quick call to your local office can save you headaches down the road.

So, as you gear up to secure your space, just remember: it’s all about balance. Security is paramount, but so is respecting privacy and legal boundaries. With a bit of planning and knowledge, you can enjoy peace of mind, knowing your security setup is both effective and compliant.

security camera laws in South Carolina

2. Other South Carolina Laws Related to Security Cameras

Here’s a list of some other important South Carolina laws and how they could potentially affect security cameras:

  • Peeping Tom Law (S.C. Code Ann. § 16-17-470): This statute prohibits voyeurism, or peeping clandestinely, at someone without their consent. Placing a camera where it can view into someone else’s property, especially in areas where there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy (like bedrooms or bathrooms), could be considered a violation.
  • Right to Privacy (S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-1700(B)): This statute defines and provides recourse against various invasions of privacy, including intrusion upon seclusion. Cameras that intrude upon a person’s private affairs or concerns, especially in private spaces, may breach this right.
  • Wiretapping, Eavesdropping, and Peeping (S.C. Code Ann. § 17-30-10 to § 17-30-145): These laws regulate the interception of wire, electronic, or oral communications without consent. Audio-equipped security cameras that capture private conversations without at least one party’s consent might contravene this regulation.
  • Harassment and Stalking (S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-1700(C) & (D)): This statute defines and penalizes acts of harassment and stalking.  If security cameras are used in a manner that intentionally causes emotional distress by placing someone under surveillance, it might be considered harassment or stalking.

Remember, while the above provides a brief overview of laws that may relate to security cameras in South Carolina, it’s essential to consult with legal counsel to ensure complete understanding and compliance.

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

Violating South Carolina’s security camera laws can lead to severe consequences.

  • One-Party Consent (S.C. Code Ann. § 17-30-30): Violations of this statute can result in felony charges. Convictions may lead to a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both. Subsequent violations can result in up to 10 years of imprisonment.
  • Peeping Tom Law (S.C. Code Ann. § 16-17-470): This offense is treated as a misdemeanor. Those convicted can be fined up to $500, imprisoned for up to 3 years, or both.
  • Right to Privacy (S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-1700(B)): While the statute details the rights and potential civil recourses available to victims, specific criminal penalties would depend on the nature and severity of the privacy invasion, potentially involving other related statutes.
  • Wiretapping, Eavesdropping, and Peeping (S.C. Code Ann. § 17-30-10 to § 17-30-145): Those who unlawfully intercept oral or electronic communications can face felony charges, resulting in fines up to $10,000, imprisonment up to 5 years, or both. Subsequent offenses can result in up to 10 years of imprisonment.
  • Harassment and Stalking (S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-1700(C) & (D)): A person who commits harassment in the first degree is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, can face imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Harassment in the second degree can result in up to 30 days of imprisonment or a fine up to $200. Stalking is a felony, and a convicted individual can face imprisonment up to 5 years, a fine at the discretion of the court, or both.

common security camera installation mistakes

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

Absolutely, go ahead and turn your home into a safe haven with the aid of security cameras! That said, let’s keep it legal and ethical, shall we?

Audio Recording Concerns

South Carolina is a “one-party consent” state, as per S.C. Code Ann. § 17-30-30. This means if you have a nifty camera with audio capabilities, at least one person involved in the conversation must be aware and consent to being recorded. If your security camera is picking up chats between your neighbors in their backyard, you might be skating on thin legal ice.

Community Living

Living in an apartment, condo, or under an HOA? Take a minute to review your lease or community bylaws. While you’re usually in the clear for cameras inside your unit, external placements might require a quick consultation with the property management or the HOA board.

Respect Thy Neighbor

You love your cameras, but your neighbors might not, especially if your cameras capture their property. Point those lenses away from neighboring windows and yards to maintain good relations and avoid potential legal hiccups.

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

You bet! Surveillance systems in your business can be your eyes and ears when you’re not around. But just like with home setups, there are a few caveats to keep in mind.

Transparency is Key

In South Carolina, it’s often legally mandated to inform both employees and customers that they’re under surveillance. A conspicuous sign at the entrance and stickers or placards in key areas can get the job done.

Sign Placement Suggestions Why It Matters
Entrance Doors First point of contact, hard to miss.
Near Cash Registers Protects against internal and external theft.
Common Areas (e.g., Break Rooms) Keeps everyone aware, deters misconduct.

Privacy Norms

Just as at home, respect people’s privacy. Cameras should never be installed in areas where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This includes:

  • Restrooms
  • Changing Rooms
  • Employee-only Areas (Depending on specific circumstances)

Remember, violating privacy norms isn’t just bad practice; it can result in lawsuits or criminal charges. So, point those cameras wisely!

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6. How to File a Complaint if Someone is Violating the Security Camera Laws in South Carolina

Let’s break down the process of lodging a complaint in South Carolina to ensure that your voice is heard, and your rights are protected.

Document Everything

Before you dash off to the police station, take a moment to gather your thoughts. Your complaint will carry more weight if it’s backed by concrete evidence.

  • Dates and Times: Jot down the specific instances when you felt your privacy was invaded.
  • Visual Evidence: If safe and possible, snap photos or videos of the intrusive camera.
  • Witnesses: Did anyone else notice the violation? Their account can bolster your complaint.

Preparing Your Complaint

You’ve got your evidence. Now, let’s get it all on paper. Your complaint should ideally include:

Information Why It Matters
Violator’s Details Helps authorities pinpoint who’s potentially at fault.
Dates, Times & Locations Provides a timeline of alleged violations.
Descriptions of Incidents Adds context to your complaint.
Evidence Bolsters the credibility of your claim.
Witness Details Additional accounts can strengthen your case.
Any Other Relevant Information The more info, the better!

Approaching the Authorities

March down to your local police department to file your complaint. Being cordial and concise will get you far. Remember, the officers are there to help. Explain your concerns, present your evidence, and let them take it from there.

Seeking Legal Counsel

If you feel your complaint needs extra weight, or if you’ve been particularly violated, it might be time to lawyer up. An attorney experienced in South Carolina’s privacy laws can:

  • Offer clarity on the nuances of the law.
  • Guide you on the best course of action.
  • Represent you if legal action becomes necessary.


Security cameras undoubtedly enhance safety in homes and businesses. But in South Carolina, it’s crucial to recognize and respect the balance between security and individual privacy. The state’s laws aim to protect personal and private spaces, and any violations can lead to significant consequences. Prior to installation, familiarize yourself with local regulations to ensure legal compliance.

Security Camera Laws in Other States


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

In South Carolina, there isn’t a statewide requirement that mandates businesses to obtain a permit for the installation of security cameras. However, you should always check local ordinances and regulations, as some municipalities might have specific requirements or restrictions.

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

In South Carolina, it’s generally legal to video-record someone in public places where there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy. However, it is important to ensure you do not invade someone’s privacy, particularly in private settings, without their knowledge or consent.

Is it legal to record audio on security cameras in South Carolina?

South Carolina is a “one-party consent” state when it comes to audio recording, meaning that at least one party involved in the conversation must consent to being recorded. Therefore, recording audio on security cameras without the knowledge or consent of at least one person being recorded might be illegal, especially if the recording captures conversations where neither party has given consent.

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