Virginia Man Faces Criminal Charges For Unlawful Filming
A 21-year-old Virginia man faces misdemeanor charges for allegedly filming other people in a public bathroom, according to an article by the Loudoun Times-Mirror.
According to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, this offense took place on May 25 at the Dulles Town Center in Sterling. Allegedly, the Virginia man was in a bathroom taking pictures under the stall divider.
After receiving reports of this offense, law enforcement conducted an investigation and identified the Virginia man as a prime suspect. After turning himself in to law enforcement on July 25, the Virginia man was charged with unlawful filming.
While this matter plays out in court, it seems like a proper moment to review the Virginia laws against and penalties for unlawful filming.
Virginia Definition of Unlawful Filming
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-386.1 establishes the definition of unlawful filming. Under this section, unlawful filming requires the following elements:
- The perpetrator must knowingly and intentionally create any image or video of a victim without consent; and
- The victim is completely nude, only wearing undergarments, or in the act of undressing; or
- The image or video was created by placing a camera beneath or in between the victim’s legs, when those areas would not be visible to the general public otherwise.
In addition, unlawful filming requires the victim to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Stated otherwise, if the victim voluntarily exposes them self in a public place, unlawful filming charges are unlikely to follow.
Section 18.2-386.1 does carve out several exceptions to unlawful filming. This offense does not apply to:
- Law enforcement officers engaged in a lawful, criminal investigation;
- Correctional officers for security or the investigation of potential misconduct in prisons or jails; or
- Certain oral conversations that were recorded alongside video or film.
Virginia Penalties for Unlawful Filming
Section 18.2-386.1 also furnishes the Virginia penalties for unlawful filming offenses. On the first or second offense, unlawful filming is typically charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The Virginia punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor includes criminal fines up to $2,500 and a maximum jail sentence of 12 months.
That being said, unlawful filming can become a Class 6 felony under the following circumstances:
- The victim was a minor under 18 years old and did not consent; or
- The offender committed unlawful filming a third or subsequent time within a 10-year period.
The Virginia punishment for a Class 6 felony includes criminal fines up to $2,500 as well as a prison sentence between one and five years.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about unlawful filming or other criminal offenses under Virginia law, it is important to contact a Winchester felony and misdemeanor lawyer. The lawyers at Simms Showers LLP are eager to help you today.