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Video Voyeurism

Video Voyeurism – What is it & What are the Legal Penalties in Florida?

Video voyeurism is when someone secretly records another in a private area without their consent. Codified under Section 810.145 of the Florida Statutes, a person commits the offense of video voyeurism if that person does one of the following three acts:

  • For his or her own amusement, entertainment, sexual arousal, 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;
  • For the amusement, entertainment, sexual arousal, gratification, or profit of another, or on behalf of another, intentionally permits the use or installation of 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; or
  • For the amusement, entertainment, sexual arousal, gratification, or profit of oneself or another, or on behalf of oneself or another, intentionally uses an imaging device to secretly view, broadcast, or record under or through the clothing being worn by another person, without that person’s knowledge and consent, for the purpose of viewing the body of, or the undergarments worn by, that person.

Although these acts differ slightly, they all involve an individual recording another in a private state, where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, out of sexual gratification or interest. It’s important to note that video voyeurism has the additional component of using an imaging device to secretly view, broadcast, or record a person, whereas voyeurism, codified under Section 810.14 of the Florida Statutes, involves secretly observing another when they are in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. It’s important to note that the term “imaging device” encompasses not only cameras and camcorders, but motion picture cameras and any other instrument, equipment, or format, capable of recording, storing, or transmitting visual images of another person.

Video Voyeurism Dissemination & Commercial Video Voyeurism Dissemination

A person commits the offense of video voyeurism dissemination if that person, knowing or having reason to believe that an image was created in violation of Section 810.145 of the Florida Statutes, intentionally disseminates, distributes, or transfers the image to another person for the purpose of amusement, entertainment, sexual arousal, gratification, profit, or for the purpose of degrading or abusing another person. Furthermore, a person commits the offense of commercial video voyeurism dissemination if that person, having reason to believe that the image was procured in violation of the statute, sells the image for consideration to another person or disseminates, distributes, or transfers the image to another person so that person can sell the image to others.

Legal Penalties

Many crimes, such as drug possession, have increased penalties when you attempt to sell those drugs. However, Florida’s video voyeurism law does not increase penalties for dissemination. Instead, the penalty is determined by the age of the offender. Video voyeurism by a person under nineteen will result in a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine, and a year of probation. Video voyeurism by a person nineteen or older will result in a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and five years of probation. Furthermore, if you are a repeat offender, meaning you have previously been convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for any video voyeurism violation, an additional video voyeurism charge will result in a second-degree felony, punishable by fifteen years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and fifteen years of probation.

Enhanced Penalties for Child Cases

Because children are considered a protected class, video voyeurism against a child will result in a second-degree felony. To be charged with this enhanced penalty, an individual must be one of the following:

  • Eighteen years of age or older who is responsible for the welfare of a child younger than sixteen, regardless of whether the person knows or has reason to know the age of the child, and who commits a video voyeurism offense against that child;
  • Eighteen years of age or older who is employed at a private school or a voluntary prekindergarten education program and who commits a video voyeurism offense under against a student of the private school, school, or voluntary prekindergarten education program; or
  • Twenty-four years of age or older who commits a video voyeurism offense against a child younger than 16 years of age, regardless of whether the person knows or has reason to know the child’s age.

If charged with video voyeurism against a child, the offender will be designated as a sex offender. To read more about Florida’s sex offender registry and the consequences of being placed on one, visit our blog here.

Possible Defenses

A key defense to assert if you have been charged with the crime of video voyeurism involves the reasonable expectation of privacy provision within each part of the statute. You may be able to assert that, because of the location and circumstances, an individual did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Furthermore, the statute specifically states that it does not apply to the following circumstances, rendering them applicable defenses:

  • A law enforcement agency conducting surveillance for law enforcement purposes;
  • A security system that has a written notice conspicuously posted on the premises stating that a video surveillance system has been installed for the purpose of security on the premises;
  • A video surveillance devise that is installed in such a manner that the presence of the device is clearly and immediately obvious; or
  • Dissemination, distribution, or transfer of images by a provider of an electronic communication service or a provider of a remote computing service.

Recent Alarming Cases

So, how often do crimes involving video voyeurism occur? Unfortunately, the answer is: more often than you think. In late January, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) arrested Dr. Rene Michael Ng of Bradenton. Ng was charged with video voyeurism after FDLE agents executed a search warrant at his business, Chinese Medical Solutions in Sarasota, and uncovered a video of a female patient that was recorded without her permission.  He faces a third-degree felony charge and additional charges will likely arise as the investigation progresses. Less than a month earlier, University of Central Florida’s police department arrested Deontre Donnell Mason, who left his phone hovering over a stall in a campus bathroom. The victim reported the violation, and an investigation revealed that Mason, who was not a student at the university, may have been committing video voyeurism in other locations on campus as well. As a result, the school issued a statement to students urging others who believed they were victims to come forward, and Mason was charged with one count of video voyeurism.

Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney

Video voyeurism is a serious offense that requires the knowledge, skill, and expertise of an experienced attorney. If you or a loved one has been charged with video voyeurism, call a qualified Tallahassee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of experience fighting against sex crimes and are ready to explore all applicable defenses to your case. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message to discuss your case during an open and free consultation with an attorney in our legal team.

Written by Sarah Kamide 

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