California Penal Code Section 647(j) PC: Invasion Of Privacy

privacy invasion

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Technology has become increasingly advanced and widespread, with items such as cameras and video recorders available to anyone with a smartphone. With the spread of this technology comes the risk that some people may use recording devices for unlawful purposes. In response to these concerns, the state legislature has enacted California Penal Code Section 647(j) PC which makes it illegal to commit various invasion of privacy offenses.

There are three separate offenses covered by the invasion of privacy statute.

A defendant would be guilty of invasion of privacy under California Penal Code Section 647(j)(1) PC, if the following conditions are present:

  1. The defendant peeked through a hole or opening into an area someone is occupying in which a reasonable expectation of privacy exists
  2. The defendant did so by using an instrument, such as a
    1. Periscope
    2. Telescope
    3. Binoculars
    4. Camera
    5. Video camera
    6. Or mobile phone
  3. 3. AND the defendant did this with the intent to invade the privacy of the person inside.

California Penal Code Section 647(j)(2) PC involves using a concealed device to record another person’s body or undergarments. A defendant would be guilty of this offense where the following elements are present:

  1. The defendant used a
    1. Concealed camcorder
    2. Motion picture camera
    3. OR any type of photographic camera
  2. To secretly videotape, film, photograph or record another identifiable person under or through the other person’s clothing for the purpose of viewing the body or undergarments of that other person
  3. Without the consent or knowledge of the other person
  4. With the intent of sexual arousal or invasion of privacy
  5. AND under circumstances in which the other person had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

California Penal Code Section 647(j)(3) PC involves the use of a hidden camera to record someone in a private area. A defendant would be guilty of this offense where the following elements are present:

  1. The defendant used a
    1. Concealed camcorder
    2. Motion picture camera
    3. OR any type of photographic camera
  2. To secretly videotape, film, photograph or record another identifiable person in full or partial states of dress for the purpose of viewing the body or undergarments of that other person
  3. Without the consent or knowledge of the other person
  4. In the interior area of a
    1. Bedroom
    2. Bathroom
    3. Changing room
    4. Fitting room
    5. Dressing room
    6. Tanning booth
    7. OR any other area in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy
  5. With the intent to invade the privacy of the other person.

2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Lewd ConductCalifornia Penal Code Section 647(a) PC
  2. Peeking While Loitering – California Penal Code Section 647(i) PC
  3. Eavesdropping – California Penal Code Section 632 PC
  4. WiretappingCalifornia Penal Code Section 631 PC

3. Examples

A man goes to the mall and secretly takes pictures under the skirts of women with his cell phone camera. This man could be charged with invasion of privacy under California Penal Code Section 647(j) PC.

In another example, a man owns a clothing shop that has suffered losses due to shoplifters. The man puts a security camera in the changing rooms with a sign alerting customers that they are being monitored for security purposes. The man would not be criminally liable for invasion of privacy because he had a legitimate purpose and there was no expectation of privacy due to the signs.

4. Defenses to Invasion of Privacy

There may be situations in which a person inadvertently photographs another. In these circumstances, the defendant would have a valid accident defense if charged criminally. In addition, there would be no criminal liability where the defendant did not intend to invade another person’s privacy or where the other person consented to being photographed.

5. Penalties

Invasion of privacy is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000 for first time offenders. For someone’s second or subsequent violation of California Penal Code Section 647(j) PC, the defendant can be sentenced to up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

6. Criminal Defense for Invasion of Privacy Cases

If you have been charged with invasion of privacy, it is very important that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly regarded throughout the court system. Mr. Kraut understands the embarrassing nature of charges like this and is able to make all court appearances on his behalf of clients to save them from having to appear publicly in court.

For more information about invasion of privacy, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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