ARS § 13-1424 is the Arizona statute that defines the crime of voyeurism. You commit this offense if you
- invade a person’s privacy for the purpose of sexual stimulation, or
- take a photograph or film while doing so and distribute it or publish it.
A violation of this law is a Class 5 felony punishable by over two years in state prison.
- watching a person undress without that person’s knowledge.
- staring into a neighbor’s window and secretly watching a couple have sex.
- photographing a woman showering and posting the photos on social media.
Criminal defense lawyers draw upon several legal strategies to help clients contest voyeurism charges. A few common ones include showing that:
- a defendant acted with the “victim’s” consent,
- there was no invasion of privacy, and/or
- the accused was exempt under the law.
- custody in state prison for up to two years and six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $150,000.
In this article, our criminal defense attorneys will discuss what the law is under this statute, defenses available if charged, the penalties for a conviction, and related crimes.
1. How does Arizona law define “voyeurism”?
People in Arizona are guilty of voyeurism if they:
- knowingly invade the privacy of another person without the knowledge of the other person for the purpose of sexual stimulation, or
- take a photograph or film while doing so and disclose, display, distribute, or publish it.i
For purposes of this section, a person’s privacy is invaded if:
- the person has a reasonable expectation that he/she will not be photographed, videotaped, filmed, subjected to a digital recording, or otherwise viewed or recorded, and
- the person is photographed, filmed, or viewed:
– while the person is in a state of nudity, undress, or partial dress,
– while the person is engaged in sexual intercourse, sexual contact, sexual activity, or sexual conduct,
– while the person is urinating or defecating, or
– in a manner that directly or indirectly captures or allows viewing the person’s genitalia, buttock, or female breast, whether clothed or unclothed.ii
Note that there are a few exemptions under this law. For example, a person is not guilty of voyeurism if either of the following applies:
- a person photographs, films, or views someone for security purposes and there is a notice posted of the photographing, filming, or viewing,
- law enforcement officers photograph, film, or view someone pursuant to a lawful investigation, or
- people are lawfully using child monitoring devices.iii
Note that some states divide the crime of voyeurism into different degrees, like first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree. However, Arizona does not do this. It just has one form of voyeurism.
2. Are there defenses to a charge brought under ARS 13-1424?
People charged with a crime under this statute have a legal right to contest it with a legal defense. Three common defenses include defendants showing that they:
- acted with the “victim’s” consent.
- did not invade a person’s privacy.
- are exempt under the law.
People are not guilty of voyeurism if the “victim” knew that another person was viewing him/her and that person consented to the viewing. Therefore, defendants can always try to defend against a charge by showing that they acted with consent.
2.2 No invasion of privacy
Recall that people are only guilty of this crime if they invade another person’s privacy. Further, there are several elements that a prosecutor must prove to show that a defendant invaded someone’s privacy. This means it is always a defense for an accused to show that he/she did not invade the privacy of the “victim.”
Recall too that certain exemptions apply to this law. Defendants, then, can challenge a charge by showing they fell into one of these exemptions. For example, maybe the accused was viewing someone while following lawful security protocol.
3. What are the penalties?
A violation of subsection A or B of this statute is a Class 5 felony.iv A Class 5 felony is punishable by a state prison term of up to two years and six months.
If a voyeurism charge gets classified as a “dangerous crime,” then the crime is punishable by up to four years in prison.
Note that some sexual offenses in Arizona result in the offender having to register as a sex offender. However, a person convicted of voyeurism does not have to register as such.
Examples of some sex crimes that do require sex offender registration include:
- sexual abuse of a minor,
- child molestation,
- sexual assault,
- any third or subsequent offense of either indecent exposure or public sexual indecency,
- sexual exploitation of a minor,
- sexual extortion when the victim was under 15 years of age.v
4. Are there related offenses?
There are three crimes related to voyeurism. These include:
- unlawful disclosure of explicit images – ARS 13-1425,
- surreptitious photographing – ARS 13-3019, and
- extortion – ARS 13-1804.
4.1 Unlawful disclosure of explicit images – ARS 13-1425
Per ARS 13-1425, unlawful disclosure of explicit images is the crime where people intentionally disclose sexually involved or nude images of another person and do so to harm, harass, or threaten that person.
The unlawful disclosure of explicit images is also known as “revenge porn.”
Unlike with voyeurism, revenge porn requires that a person disclose certain images with the intent to harm, harass, or threaten a person.
4.2 Surreptitious photographing – ARS 13-3019
Per ARS 13-3019, surreptitious photographing is the crime where people, under certain circumstances, secretly photograph or film a person without that person’s consent (for example, filming a person undressing in a locker room).
If a person commits this offense while in a domestic relationship with the “victim,” the charge could also give rise to a domestic violence charge. However, Arizona law says that voyeurism is never a basis for a domestic violence offense.
4.3 Extortion – ARS 13-1804
Under ARS 13-1804, extortion is the crime where people take or try to take another person’s property by threatening to do some future act (like break the “victim’s” finger).
Arizona law treats extortion as a more serious crime than voyeurism. The crime can lead to Class 2 felony charges punishable by over 12 years in prison.
- Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1424. The language of the statute reads as follows:
A. It is unlawful to knowingly invade the privacy of another person without the knowledge of the other person for the purpose of sexual stimulation.B. It is unlawful for a person to disclose, display, distribute or publish a photograph, videotape, film or digital recording that is made in violation of subsection A of this section without the consent or knowledge of the person depicted.
C. For the purposes of this section, a person’s privacy is invaded if both of the following apply:
1. The person has a reasonable expectation that the person will not be photographed, videotaped, filmed, digitally recorded or otherwise viewed or recorded.
2. The person is photographed, videotaped, filmed, digitally recorded or otherwise viewed, with or without a device, either:
(a) While the person is in a state of undress or partial dress.
(b) While the person is engaged in sexual intercourse or sexual contact.
(c) While the person is urinating or defecating.
(d) In a manner that directly or indirectly captures or allows the viewing of the person’s genitalia, buttock or female breast, whether clothed or unclothed, that is not otherwise visible to the public.
D. This section does not apply to any of the following:
1. Photographing, videotaping, filming or digitally recording for security purposes if notice of the use of the photographing, videotaping, filming or digital recording equipment is clearly posted in the location and the location is one in which the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
2. Photographing, videotaping, filming or digitally recording by correctional officials for security reasons or in connection with the investigation of alleged misconduct of persons on the premises of a jail or prison.
3. Photographing, videotaping, filming or digitally recording by law enforcement officers pursuant to an investigation, which is otherwise lawful.
4. The use of a child monitoring device as defined in section 13-3001.
E. A violation of subsection A or B of this section is a class 5 felony, except that a violation of subsection B of this section is a class 4 felony if the person depicted is recognizable.
See also State v. Gongora, 235 Ariz. 178 (2014).
- A.R.S. 13-1424C.
- ARS 13-1424D.
- ARS 13-1424E.
- ARS 13-3821A.