Voyeurism Law & Legal Definition


The criminal voyeurism statute of some states cover "a place where [one] would have a reasonable expectation of privacy", meaning:

(i) A place where a reasonable person would believe that he or she could disrobe in privacy, without being concerned that his or her undressing was being photographed or filmed by another; or

(ii) A place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from casual or hostile intrusion or surveillance.

Given the similarity to voyeurism, a jury might find that placing a hidden camera in a certain location may amount to the torts of outrage or negligent infliction of emotional distress. In New York, video voyeurism has been addressed by a law prohibiting unlawful surveillance. A person is guilty of unlawful surveillance in the second-degree offense, a class E felony punishable by a term of up to 1 - to 4 years in State prison, if he or she:

(i) for no legitimate purpose, uses or installs an imaging device to surreptiously view or record another person in a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, or other specified room; or

(ii) for sexual arousal or gratification, permits, uses or installs an imaging device to surreptiously view a person dressing or undressing when the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy; or

(iii) uses or installs an imaging device to surreptiously view under the clothing of a person - commonly known as - upskirting,- or (iv) for amusement, entertainment, or profit, or to abuse or degrade the victim, permits, uses, or installs an imaging device to surreptiously record another person dressing or undressing when the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

A person is guilty of the dissemination of an unlawful surveillance image in the first-degree, a Class E Felony punishable up to 1 - to 4 years in State prison, if he or she:

(i) publishes or sells an image that was unlawfully obtained; or

(ii) disseminates an image he or she unlawfully obtained; or

(iii) commits the first degree offense and has prior conviction of the first or second degree offenses.

The federal Video Voyeurism Protection Act of 2004 makes it a federal crime to secretly capture images of people on federal property in situations in which they have the expectation of privacy.