The Felony of Peeping Tom
Privacy is something that as citizens we hold near and dear to us: privacy to be in our own homes, free from intrusion by the government, and privacy from prying fellow citizens. The Fourth Amendment was imagined and drafted to deter the government from intruding into the most private areas of our lives.
Our peeping tom laws are evolving to further protect citizens from intrusion by others. In Florida, no longer are voyeurs getting a slap on the wrist for their invasion into our private lives and bodies, but are now being put in the same category and punished similarly as sex offenders.
Reasoning behind the Shift from Misdemeanor to Felony
The reason behind this shift: as our technology has progressed, there are more opportunities and methods by which voyeurs may find a way to peer into our most intimate moments. Camera phone technology has made it increasingly easy to spy on and publish images of our fellow citizens. Though the practice has been considered “harmless” for years, advocates for children and women are gaining traction and convincing lawmakers that voyeurism is a sex crime and should be treated by the law as such.
The Definition of Voyeurism in Florida
Florida lawmakers have stepped up to the task, along with 16 other states, and within the last two years have passed legislation making voyeurism a felony.
Voyeurism is the practice of:
- surreptitiously using a recording device to spy on, broadcast, and/or record another person,
- who is not aware that he or she is being recorded or watched (nor has given consent to either activity),
- when that person is in a place where he/she believe s there is a reasonable expectation of privacy and exposes themselves under this reasonable expectation of privacy, and/or the recording is done in a manner to capture images of the victim under or through his/her clothes, and
- the voyeur is doing it for his/her (or for another’s) amusement, sexual arousal, gratification, profit or entertainment.
Modifications to the Voyeurism Felony: Age
The law can be flexible depending on the age of the voyeur and the age of the victim being watched. For example, if the voyeur is younger than 19 years old, he or she will only be guilty of a misdemeanor. If the voyeur is 19 years old or older, the charge will become a felony. Also, if the victim is younger than the age of 16, there could be trumped up charges to include child pornography, thereby harshening the punishment and extending the sentence.
Defenses to a Charge of Voyeurism
The law requires that the state must prove every element of the crime for voyeurism to be charged. If one has been convicted of voyeurism, he or she may be able to defend against or lessen the charge by proving that one of the elements is not satisfied. For example, if the alleged victim of the voyeuristic act was in a place where he/she had no reasonable expectation of privacy and exposed his/her body nonetheless, then most likely it would not voyeurism. This would be in situations where he or she was disrobing in a public place, like the beach, rather than within a dressing room or bathroom (which is what the law has assumed is the case). Also, it would be hard to charge the defendant with voyeurism if the victim has consented to this recording and was therefore aware that he/she was being watched.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
Being charged with voyeurism is no longer a slight infraction. Florida has taken a stand and is punishing video voyeurism with significant sentences. It is important to discuss your case with an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik who can advocate effectively on your behalf. Contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Kulik for a free and confidential consultation.