According to Pew Research Center, around 96% of Americans own some sort of cell phone. Many of these devices can take photos and videos, and since they are small enough to hold in the hand, they could be taken anywhere, even places where privacy is expected. For instance, it’s not uncommon for people to take selfies in places such as bathrooms. Unfortunately, when people use their devices in such areas, they could be accused of committing a criminal offense.
Invasion of Privacy Laws
Merely using a cell phone or other device capable of taking photos and/or videos in a place where people expect to be free from surveillance does not violate Iowa’s invasion of privacy law. One would have to capture images with the intent to get sexual gratification, either for themselves or others, for them to be charged with this offense.
Under Iowa Code 709.21, invasion of privacy occurs when a person knowingly takes photos or videos:
- Without having received the other person’s consent,
- While the person being filmed was nude – fully or partially, and
- The other person had expected to have a reasonable amount of privacy
According to the law, a person is in a state of full or partial nudity when they are showing any part of their genitals, buttocks, or (for females) breasts or nipples.
This offense isn’t committed only when a person uses their phone to capture images of someone else; if the person uses any device capable of making a photo or video, they could be charged with invasion of privacy. However, cell phones are commonly said to have been used by people accused of this crime.
For instance, a janitor at Cornell College was alleged to have invaded the privacy of women in an on-campus locker room. Students said they had noticed a cell phone in an open doorway. A coach found the janitor in the area and called the police. The janitor stated that he had just been using his phone to text and wasn’t taking pictures of the women. However, a criminal investigation revealed that he had over 100 images of nude or partially nude students on his phone.
The law doesn’t only apply to a person’s expectation of privacy in a public place. For example, a 19-year-old Clermont man was charged with invasion of privacy when he was accused of setting up a video camera inside a home bathroom. He had allegedly captured footage of women using the toilet and taking showers.
Potential Conviction Penalties
Invasion of privacy is an aggravated misdemeanor, and a person convicted of this offense could face up to 2 years imprisonment and a fine between $625 and $6,250.
Speak with Keegan, Tindal & Mason Today
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