May 9, 2022 | Kentucky Law
Have you thought about purchasing a police scanner for personal use in Kentucky? How about using one of the mobile apps that act as a police scanner? Is it legal to own and use a police scanner for private use in some situations?
Before you purchase a police scanner in Louisville, there are some things you should know about police scanners for private use. If you make a mistake using a police scanner for private use, it could result in fines and jail time.
Kentucky Has a Police Scanner Law
Kentucky Revised Statute §432.570 addresses the restrictions regarding the possession and use of a radio that can send or receive police messages. The statute does not outlaw owning a police scanner for personal use in the home. However, it is illegal to have a police scanner in a personal vehicle, with the following exceptions:
- Probation and parole officers may have a police scanner in a private vehicle they use to perform their official duties.
- Towing companies may install a police scanner in a licensed commercial tow truck.
- County attorneys, state prosecutors, and peace officers investigating federal crimes, such as ICE or FBI teams, may have police scanners in their vehicles.
- EMTs and firefighters can have police scanners, but they must have written permission from the local police department and their employer.
- Emergency management personnel can install a police scanner if they have permission from the city or state agency that employs them.
With these few exceptions, installing, possessing, or even holding a police scanner in a personal vehicle violates the law.
In addition to prohibiting police scanners in personal vehicles, the code section prohibits anyone from interfering with the transmission of radio messages by police officers or law enforcement officers.
What is the Punishment for Violating Kentucky’s Police Scanner Law?
You can be charged with a misdemeanor if you are caught with a police scanner in your personal vehicle or otherwise violate the code section. The judge may impose a fine of up to $500 and send you to jail for up to one year. In addition, the court seizes and destroys police scanners and other equipment used in violation of the police scanner law.
Is It Ever Okay to Use a Police Scanner for Private Use in Kentucky?
The law does not prohibit citizens from owning police scanners or using them in their homes and other locations.
However, a person cannot use a police scanner to commit a crime. If you use a police scanner to help someone commit a crime or evade the police, you could be charged as an accessory after the fact or co-defendant. Depending on the crime, you could face a felony charge.
However, the police scanner can only receive messages. It is not legal for a private citizen to have a police scanner capable of transmitting messages, with a few exceptions.
Some individuals can own and use police scanners that can transmit signals within the same wavelength used by police officers. Examples of people who may use a police scanner capable of transmitting signals include:
- Television and radio stations licensed by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission)
- Newspaper photographers and reporters
- Retailers who sell police scanners
- A person who has an FCC license for amateur radio service or “ham radio”
It is possible to use online resources and apps to listen to police transmissions. Someone in another state could listen to police transmissions in Louisville, KY. The law regarding using these devices is unclear.
Technically, a smartphone, tablet, or computer is not a police scanner according to the definition of a police scanner by Kentucky law. The Kentucky police scanner law does not explicitly prohibit using apps via the internet. A case has not been heard to test how the courts would rule on this issue.
What Should I Do if I Am Arrested for Violating the Police Scanner Law?
A guilty verdict may result in a fine of up to $500. The judge may only impose a fine if you have a clean criminal record and you were not committing any other illegal activities using the police scanner.
However, the judge has the discretion to sentence you to up to one year in jail. You could also face other criminal charges depending on the circumstances of the case.As with any criminal charge, it is best to remain silent except for asking for your Louisville criminal defense lawyer. Explaining why you did not commit a crime generally makes things worse. Instead, politely state you will not answer questions without a lawyer and then let your lawyer handle the matter.
Contact the Cincinnati Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202