Invasive Visual Recording: Criminal Code Section 21.15

Invasive Visual Recording: Criminal Code Section 21.15

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We live in a complicated time where you can freely create and share intimate pictures of a person – but only with their complete consent. In an era of hidden bathroom cameras and celebrity upskirt scandals, invasive visual recording laws have become a necessity. But if you find yourself on the wrong side of an invasive visual recording charge, it’s important to prepare your defense quickly.

Invasive visual recording is a state jail felony, with the potential for 2 years in jail and $10,000 in fines. If someone shares or promotes the materials, they may charge him a second-state jail felon with stacking consequences.

What Is Invasive Visual Recording in Texas Law?

Invasive visual recording is capturing photos or video of a person’s intimate areas when the person has reason to expect privacy. The Texas Criminal Code Section 21.15 defines this crime as a state jail felony.

A person has committed invasive visual recording if they:

  • Record or broadcast the images of clothed or naked intimate areas of a person
  • While invading the privacy of the person
    • In a changing room, locker room, or swim changing area
    • In a bathroom
    • If the person has a reasonable expectation that the private area is not in public view
      • ex: “Upskirt”
Warning Security Cameras in Use sign.

Signage Is Not a Defense

The law also clearly defines that posting a sign indicating a photographed or recorded area is insufficient to establish a person’s consent. People assume that changing areas and bathrooms, in particular, provide privacy at all times.

Posting a sign regarding security, and surveillance, or even clearly stating that the area is video monitored is not a defense.

Section 21.16 Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Materials

A charge of invasive visual recording also opens the door to a second state jail felony. Unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual materials is defined by Texas Criminal Code Section 21.16. If you share any materials deemed to be an invasive visual recording, they may charge you with one or both felonies.

This law includes the same definition of privacy invasion but also includes the sharing, broadcast, or sale of materials that were consensually recorded in private – in which the other person has reason to believe the images would remain private.

It also includes transmitting any private images, and knowing their nature, even if you did not record or even look at them.

Also included in this crime is threatening to disclose private, intimate visual recordings, even if disclosure did not occur.

Hands with handcuffs holding a camera.

Wrongly or Mistakenly Accused of Intimate Recording

It is a sad truth that in today’s digital environment, people must be vigilant about invasive recordings. Cameras are small, phones are covert, and online standards have created a market for these unlawful materials. Upskirt shots aren’t just targeted at celebrities anymore and bathroom camera scandals are perpetrated by unassuming retail managers.

Unfortunately, this also means it is easier to be falsely accused, either by a malicious party or even by mistake.

Vengeful Ex Accusation

One of the worst elements of our current cultural climate is that intimate photos are common between loving couples. However, they can use these against both parties after a bad breakup. An ex who knows you have intimate photos on your phone that could be construed as invasive photography (perhaps, were even taken in a changing room) might level a false accusation to get revenge – knowing the evidence is on your phone.

Fearful Stranger Implication

Women, and even men, who have been targeted before by invasive visual recording often fear it in every situation. Anyone who seems to be peering too intently with their phone is a possible perpetrator. Before even collecting evidence, you may find yourself charged with invasive visual recording even if you had no intention of photographing the fearful stranger.

Lost Phones

A phone misplaced in a changing room or bathroom could easily be mistaken for an attempt at invasive visual recording. Perpetrators use it as a common tactic. Unfortunately, it is also a common mistake people make when a phone is set down or slips out of a pocket or bag.

Non-Compliant Store Policies

A person might also find themselves charged with invasive photography by doing their job. If your workplace has cameras in a changing room, locker room, or restroom and you are operating the camera according to job training, you could be at legal risk when the store or manager is at fault.

Accidental or Personal Recordings

People take selfies, video journals, and live streams from everywhere these days. Taking a selfie in a bathroom or live-streaming your own changing room experience could result in accidentally capturing private images of others. This includes images accidentally caught in a mirror.

Don’t Leave It to Chance: Defend Yourself From an Invasive Visual Recording Charge

Invasive visual recording charges have been convicted on testimony alone. Even if there are no intimate images on your phone, other camera-equipped devices, or personal digital storage. If you have had intimate images of a sexual partner, you are at even greater risk. They can use these consensually collected images against you if that partner is not present or testifies that they did not give consent. This is true even if they delete the images. Forensics can restore deleted files and corporate cloud storage may retain copies.

You can build a defense, but you should start immediately. You need a criminal defense lawyer with experience in the complexities of a sexually explicit case. A vengeful ex or the tender feelings of a previously victimized person must be carefully navigated, for example.

Invasive Visual Recording Defense With Starr Law

At Starr Law, we understand the complexities of an invasive visual recording case. We will help you build your defense no matter the circumstances. Whether a fearful stranger falsely accuses you or a complicated situation due to a previous relationship, our lawyers will help you seek the best possible outcome. Contact us for a consultation on your case.

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