Voyeurism and Peeping Laws

Voyeurism, peeping, and invasion of privacy is treated as disorderly conduct under California law, and is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. Many people charged with voyeurism may feel like it is an innocent crime because they didn't hurt anyone. Other times, they may feel that the person wanted to be watched. Even if the persons observed had no idea that they were being watched, a person can still be charged with a criminal offense under the penal code.

A “voyeur” is generally defined as a person who gets sexual gratification or excitement from observing others who are naked, undressing, or engaging in sexual activity. It may also include recording the events through video or photographs. Voyeurs usually do not have any contact with the people they are observing.

Peeping Tom

It is unlawful for anyone, while loitering, prowling, or wandering upon the private property of another, to peek inside the door or window without lawful business with the occupant. This occurs when a person engages in “peeping tom” type activity.

See CA Penal Code 647(i).

Voyeur/Invasion of Privacy

This crime is defined as looking through a hole or opening into the interior of a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room or tanning booth, or any area in which the occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy.  This doesn't just mean looking with the eyes, but includes a telescope, binoculars, camera, video camera, or phone.

See CA Penal Code 647(j)(1).

Hidden Recordings

It is an invasion of privacy to secretly record video of another person under or through their clothing for the purpose of viewing the body or underwear, without their consent or knowledge for sexual gratification. It is also an invasion of privacy to record nude, or partially undressed people without their consent or knowledge, in an area where they have an expectation of privacy. This includes any type of camera and recording by any means of someone in which they have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

As technology has advanced, it is possible for cameras to record higher quality images while shrinking in size. These laws target things like hidden cameras in restrooms or changing rooms, as well as so-called “upskirt” photos and videos.

See CA Penal Code 647(j)(2) and (3).

Peeping/Voyeur Penalties

Most peeping, unlawful peeking, or voyeurism cases are prosecuted as misdemeanors. Penalties include up to six (6) months in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000. Subsequent violations have enhanced penalties.

Sex Offender Registration

In most cases, unlawful peeking will not require a person convicted to register as a sex offender but other invasion of privacy crimes do require registration.

Defenses to Voyeurism

As with most sex crimes, the charges and possible defenses can be complicated. Possible defenses include showing that there was no peeking, or the person consented to being watched. It is not a defense if the voyeur was the victim's partner, roommate, employer, or landlord. A legal team who specializes in defense of sex crimes will look into the facts of each case to determine how best to form their legal defense, including investigation of the accuser, and engaging top expert witnesses.

Contact the offices of White Goldstein to speak with an attorney who specializes in defending people accused of unlawful peeking. We will provide you or your loved one with superior legal representation. We are dedicated to giving our clients the highest level of service. We will thoroughly investigate the charges you or your loved one face and will tirelessly work to have them dismissed.

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Call White Goldstein today at (310) 295-1810 for a free, confidential consultation.

White Goldstein

At White Goldstein, we provide our clients, and their loved ones, with nothing less than excellence in criminal defense. Unlike many criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles, we fight for our clients with compassion and emotion as well as intellect and skill because we genuinely care for our clients and their families