You’ve likely heard a story of a secret camera installed in a hotel room, a public bathroom, or an Airbnb. These stories of people observing unsuspecting individuals are often used to scare or urge caution when traveling. One of the most famous of these types of incidents involved ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, who was unknowingly filmed in a hotel room while nude. The individual, in that case, was convicted of filming the reporter and posting videos of her online. That case, among others, has shone a spotlight on video voyeurism.
What is Video Voyeurism?
At its most basic, video voyeurism is the act of recording an individual in a private area without their consent. A “private area” in this case would be a non-public space or a space where an individual would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a public bathroom or fitting room.
There are plenty of public spaces where we are filmed, of course, such as retail establishments and even on the roadways. These places are allowed to film for safety and legal reasons, and we imply our consent to be filmed by frequenting those places. If, however, an associate at a retailer rigged a camera to film in a changing room or any private place, this would be considered video voyeurism. While we can’t expect privacy while browsing for a new shirt, we can expect privacy when trying it on to see if it fits.
On the other hand, if a couple were being intimate in a car in public view and a passerby films it, it is safe to say that video voyeurism has not occurred because the couple were in public, despite the fact that they were in a personal vehicle.
Ultimately, the charge of video voyeurism seems like it’s straightforward, however, there is a lot of nuance for such crimes in how they can be interpreted and applied. This means it’s even more crucial to have a skilled Tampa defense lawyer on your side.
The 3 Types of Video Voyeurism Charges in Florida
Florida Statute 810.145 spells out three different offenses related to video voyeurism.
The most basic charge, video voyeurism, occurs when an individual, or voyeur:
“For his or her own amusement, entertainment, sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or profit, or for the purpose of degrading or abusing another person, intentionally uses or installs an imaging device to secretly view, broadcast, or record a person, without that person’s knowledge and consent, who is dressing, undressing, or privately exposing the body, at a place and time when that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
Video voyeurism also covers individuals who allow for such a camera to be installed for observation, as well as individuals who use cameras to record under or through clothing without the subject’s awareness or consent.
Video Voyeurism Dissemination
According to Florida Statute 810.145,
A person commits the offense of video voyeurism dissemination if that person, knowing or having reason to believe that an image was created in a manner described in this section, intentionally disseminates, distributes, or transfers the image to another person for the purpose of amusement, entertainment, sexual arousal, gratification, or profit, or for the purpose of degrading or abusing another person.
Commercial Video Voyeurism Dissemination
An individual can be charged with commercial video voyeurism dissemination if they sell the image or video to another person knowing (or having reason to believe) that the image was the result of video voyeurism or if they create the image or video and then distribute or transfer it to another individual to sell.
For individuals under 19, a video voyeurism charge is a first-degree misdemeanor. However, if the individual has a previous video voyeurism charge, they will be charged with a second-degree felony.
For those 19 and older, a video voyeurism charge is a third-degree felony. However, if the individual has a previous video voyeurism charge, they will be charged with a second-degree felony.
If an individual is 18 and older and is charged with video voyeurism where the victim is a child under 16 whose welfare, they are responsible for, the individual will be charged with a second-degree felony.
If an individual is 24 years old or older and is charged with video voyeurism where the victim is a child under 16, they will be charged with a second-degree felony.
What is the Punishment for Video Voyeurism?
Because there are varying charges for the crime of video voyeurism, the sentence an individual convicted of video voyeurism will receive will vary based on the circumstances and the crime.
Typically in Florida, a first-degree offense of voyeurism is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000. The penalties can also go up to 12 months of jail time, 12 months of probation, and up to $5000.
Voyeurism with prior convictions is considered a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a fine of up to $5,000.
A second-degree felony is more severe and is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison, fifteen years of probation, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Video voyeurism committed by a person under 19 years of age is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, while for persons over 19 is a third-degree felony.
Penalties could be more severe depending on the age of the victim and the individual charged. Convictions for video voyeurism of a minor usually result in the person convicted having to register as a sex offender.
How to Defend Against It
Because video voyeurism charges depend on technology, challenging the ownership or possession of the device is a common tactic for defending against video voyeurism. It’s crucial that an individual charged with video voyeurism refrain from giving statements to the police, incriminating or otherwise, and hire a skilled Tampa defense attorney immediately. Don’t let the police use your words against you—remain silent and call Mike G Law.
Another possible defense is to challenge the notion of a “reasonable” right to privacy. Depending on the case, it may be possible to show that the alleged victim did not have a reasonable right to privacy in the location in question.
Charged with a Crime? Call Mike G Law Now!
If you’ve been charged with video voyeurism or another sex crime, seek help immediately. A sex crime conviction can jeopardize your future, making it harder to find housing, get a job, secure a loan, build relationships, and more.
Mike G, a former sex crimes prosecutor, can help you make your case.
With decades of experience, Mike G understands the criminal justice system and can help ensure your rights are protected. Don’t get railroaded by a justice system intent on garnering convictions. Call Mike G Law and protect your rights.