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Are There Laws Against Being a “Peeping Tom” in California?

February 28, 2019

If you commit certain acts, you could be charged with invasion of privacy

: Are There Laws Against Being a “Peeping Tom” in California?In 2019, the idea of a “Peeping Tom” may seem old-fashioned. Many crimes related to someone “spying” on another person in the modern era involves computers or smart phones.  Yet peeping Toms do still exist — and if you get caught violating the laws against invading privacy in this way, you could face criminal charges.

So what exactly are “Peeping Tom” laws? According to an experienced criminal defense lawyer Riverside, CA, there are two laws related to invasion of privacy in California.  The first makes it a crime to view the inside of a room or an area in which a person has a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”  Importantly, this law also makes it a crime to view the inside of a such a room via a “certain device,” such as a camera, binocular, telescope or mobile phone. The second law makes it a crime to peek in the door or window of an inhabited structure while loitering (or lingering) on private property.

What rooms does a person have a reasonable expectation of privacy in? As a criminal defense lawyer Riverside, CA can explain, they are the rooms that you might expect: bathrooms, bedrooms, changing rooms, fitting rooms, dressing rooms, and tanning booths.  In other words, any room where you might be doing something private, like changing your clothes or being in a state of undress.

For example, consider a situation where a man slides his cell phone under a bathroom door with the video camera running, hoping to take a video of his female roommate as she gets out of the shower.  He would be in violation of California’s invasion of privacy laws because he viewed the inside of a room where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy — the bathroom — using a device (his mobile phone).

 Invasion of privacy is a misdemeanor crime, punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to 6 months and/or a fine of up to $1,000.  Alternatively, a judge may sentence a defendant to misdemeanor probation, which is also known as summary or informal probation.  However, if a defendant a repeat offender of invasion of privacy laws (with regard to viewing the inside of a room) or the victim is under the age of 18, the penalties for the crime may increase to up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Riverside or the surrounding areas, you will need a skilled criminal defense lawyer Riverside, CA to represent you.  Any criminal charge can lead to significant consequences, including in your personal and professional life.  At the Chambers Law Firm, our team of legal professionals has experience helping people who have been charged with a range of crimes.  Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

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