The Invasive Visual Recording crime in the state of Texas gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you take, or help spread, any kind of photograph or video of (1) someone’s “intimate areas” or (2) someone in a bathroom or changing room. Learn more detailed information about the Invasive Visual Recording offense below.
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Invasive Visual Recording is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 5 “Offenses Against The Person”, Chapter 21 “Sexual Offenses.”
What is the current Texas law about Invasive Visual Recording?
The current Texas law defines the offense of Invasive Visual Recording in Penal Code Section §21.15 as follows:
(b) A person commits an offense if, without the other person’s consent and with intent to invade the privacy of the other person, the person:
(1) photographs or by videotape or other electronic means records, broadcasts, or transmits a visual image of an intimate area of another person if the other person has a reasonable expectation that the intimate area is not subject to public view;
(2) photographs or by videotape or other electronic means records, broadcasts, or transmits a visual image of another in a bathroom or changing room; or
(3) knowing the character and content of the photograph, recording, broadcast, or transmission, promotes a photograph, recording, broadcast, or transmission described by Subdivision (1) or (2).
This offense was created by the 84th Legislature as a response to Ex parte Thompson (Tex. Crim. App.) where the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals struck down a law called Improper Photography or Visual Recording as substantially overbroad. The legislature amended the Improper Photography or Visual Recording law and retitled it Invasive Visual Recording.
Intimate area is defined in this subsection as “the naked or clothed genitals, pubic area, anus, buttocks, or female breast of a person” “Female breast” is defined in this subsection as “any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola.”
Changing room is defined in this subsection as “a room or portioned area provided for or primarily used for the changing of clothing and includes dressing rooms, locker rooms, and swimwear changing areas”
Promotes is defined in this subsection as “to manufacture, issue, sell, give, provide, lend, mail, deliver, transfer, transmit, publish, distribute, circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, or advertise, or to offer or agree to do the same”
How can I be charged with Invasive Visual Recording?
You can be charged with Invasive Visual Recording if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 21.15(b) as described in the section above have been met.
The state’s attorneys can use your cell phone or camera against you, and they can obtain internet records that can provide information related to the use of virtually any device connected to the internet. Also, an accuser can simply tell the police that you were involved in the taking of the pictures or video, and then the prosecuting attorneys can demand that the person testifies against you.
What is the punishment for Invasive Visual Recording?
A conviction for Invasive Visual Recording is punished as a State Jail Felony, with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and jail time of up to two years. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors
Invasive Visual Recording is not a “reportable conviction or adjudication” for purposes of sex offender registration.
^1. Texas Penal Code §21.15^2. See “Texas’ highest criminal court strikes down ‘improper photography’ statute” by the Washington Post^3. Senate Bill 1317, 84th Texas Legislature^4. Texas Penal Code §21.15(a)(2)^5. Texas Penal Code §21.15(a)(1)^6. Texas Penal Code §21.15(a)(3)^7. Texas Penal Code §21.15(a)(4) says:
”Promote” has the meaning assigned by Section 43.21.
PC 43.21 is the Obscenity statute, and 43.21(a)(5) defines “Promote” as described supra.^8. Texas Penal Code §21.15(c)