PA 15-213—HB 6921

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING INVASIONS OF PRIVACY

SUMMARY: This act makes a number of changes regarding voyeurism crimes and victims. It:

1. expands the conduct punishable as voyeurism and expands the sex offender registry requirements to cover this new conduct;

2. increases the penalty for voyeurism when the victim is under age 16 or the offender has a prior conviction of voyeurism or certain other crimes;

3. extends the statute of limitations for voyeurism in certain circumstances;

4. increases the possible probation term for certain types of voyeurism; and

5. extends to voyeurism victims three protections existing law gives to certain sexual assault victims regarding their names, addresses, and other identifying information.

It also creates a new crime of unlawful dissemination of an intimate image, making it a class A misdemeanor (see Table on Penalties) to harm another person by intentionally disseminating certain photos, film, videos, or other recorded images of the other person without that person's consent and knowing that the person understood the images would not be disseminated.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

1 & 2 — VOYEURISM CRIME AND PENALTIES

Criminal Conduct

The act expands the crime of voyeurism in two ways. First, it punishes someone who:

1. intends to arouse or satisfy his or her sexual desire;

2. commits simple trespass (entering property knowing he or she is not entitled to do so without intent to harm property);

3. observes another person who is inside a dwelling and not in plain view under circumstances where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy; and

4. does not have the other person's knowledge or consent and the observation is not casual or cursory.

Second, it punishes someone who:

1. intends to arouse or satisfy his or her or someone else's sexual desire;

2. knowingly photographs, films, videotapes, or otherwise records the victim's genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or undergarments or stockings used to clothe them, when they are not in plain view; and

3. records such an image without the victim's knowledge and consent.

Under existing law, a person commits voyeurism when (1) he or she knowingly photographs, films, videotapes, or records the victim's image; (2) he or she acts maliciously or intends to satisfy his or her or another's sexual desire; and (3) the victim is not in plain view, has a reasonable expectation of privacy under the circumstances, and does not know of, or consent to, the conduct.

Penalty

Prior law punished all voyeurism crimes as class D felonies (see Table on Penalties). Under the act, a first offense is a class D felony but the act makes it a class C felony if the (1) victim is under age 16 or (2) offender has a prior conviction of:

1. risk of injury to a minor involving sexual contact with a child under age 16;

2. 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree sexual assault; 1st degree aggravated sexual assault; 3rd degree sexual assault with a firearm; or sexual assault in a spousal or cohabiting relationship;

3. enticing a minor, promoting a minor in an obscene performance, or importing child pornography; or

4. 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree child pornography possession.

Under the act, any subsequent voyeurism conviction is a class C felony.

Statute of Limitation

The act extends the time period for prosecuting the types of voyeurism crimes involving recording the victim's image. Previously, all voyeurism prosecutions had to begin within five years after the date of the offense. For voyeurism crimes involving recordings, the act allows prosecutions to begin within five years from the date the victim discovers the recording's existence.

Probation Term

Prior law allowed a court to impose a three-year probation term, with discretion to increase it to five years, after a conviction of any type of voyeurism crime. The act increases the possible probation term to a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 35 years, when the voyeurism conviction involves (1) the types of voyeurism added by the act or (2) recording the victim's image when the victim is not in plain view with intent to satisfy the voyeur's or another's sexual desire.

3 & 4 — SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION

The act designates committing the types of voyeurism it adds as “nonviolent sexual offenses” subject to 10-year sex offender registration. The act allows the court to exempt a person from registration if it is not required for public safety. Existing law subjects to this same requirement and possible exemption voyeurism committed by recording the victim's image when the victim is not in plain view with intent to satisfy the voyeur's or another's sexual desire.

By law, lifetime registration is required for someone who subsequently commits (1) another nonviolent sexual offense or (2) a crime designated as a “criminal offense against a victim who is a minor.

5-7 — PROTECTIONS FOR VOYEURISM VICTIMS' NAMES AND ADDRESSES

The act extends to voyeurism victims three protections the law gives to certain sexual assault victims regarding their names and addresses.

First, the act allows agencies to exempt from disclosure to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law enforcement records created in detecting or investigating a crime that are not otherwise available to the public, when disclosure would not be in the public interest because it discloses a victim's name and address.

Second, the act prohibits requiring a voyeurism victim to divulge his or her address or phone number during a trial or pretrial evidentiary hearing arising from the voyeurism incident if the judge finds the (1) information is not material, (2) victim's identity is satisfactorily established, and (3) victim's current address will be given to the defense in the same way as with cases involving other offenses.

Third, the act makes confidential a voyeurism victim's name, address, and other information the court determines is identifying, but allows:

1. a court to order disclosure;

2. the accused to have access to the information in the same way as for cases involving other offenses; and

3. if a protective order is issued in the prosecution, the victim's name, address, and information to be entered in the protective order registry (which makes the information available to certain officials and others but otherwise bars disclosure except under court order and a victim can place certain limitations on its use).

By law, these three protections already apply to the names, addresses, and information of victims of:

1. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th degree sexual assault;

2. 1st degree aggravated sexual assault;

3. 3rd degree sexual assault with a firearm;

4. risk of injury to a minor; or

5. an attempt to commit one of these crimes.

8 — UNLAWFUL DISSEMINATION OF AN INTIMATE IMAGE

The act creates a new crime to punish someone who harms another person by intentionally disseminating certain photos, film, videos, or other recorded images of the other person without that person's consent and knowing the person understood the images would not be disseminated. The disseminated image must be of the (1) other person engaged in sexual intercourse or (2) other person's genitals, pubic area, or buttocks with less than fully opaque covering or, if a female, breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any portion below the top of the nipple. The act applies to using electronic or other means to sell, give, provide, lend, trade, mail, deliver, transfer, publish, distribute, circulate, present, exhibit, advertise, or otherwise offer the image.

The act does not apply to disseminating an image if:

1. it serves the public interest,

2. the person voluntarily (a) exposed himself or herself or (b) engaged in sexual intercourse in a public place (a public or privately owned area used or held out for use by the public) or commercial setting, or

3. the person is not clearly identifiable.

The act makes this crime a class A misdemeanor.

The act specifies that it does not impose liability on certain service providers for content provided by another. This applies to interactive computer services, such as Internet access services; information services, such as electronic publishing; and telecommunication services.

OLR Tracking: CR: mk: pf: cmg