Improper Photography: Taking & Posting Without Permission

In today’s digital age, the prevalence of smartphones and other gadgets has made it common for people to easily capture and share photos and videos. However, there is a significant issue emerging: the sharing of images and videos without the consent of those involved. Texas, like many other jurisdictions, is grappling with the legal implications of taking and sharing content without explicit permission.

The act of taking and sharing photos without consent carries considerable weight in Texas, and understanding the relevant laws is crucial to avoid potential legal consequences. This blog post aims to delve into the specifics of the laws surrounding the sharing of content without permission in Texas.

Privacy Law 

The law talks about Invasive Visual Recording in Penal Code Section §21.15. It says that if someone takes pictures or records a video of another person’s private parts without their permission and with the aim of invading their privacy, it’s considered an offense. The key is that the person being recorded should reasonably expect that their private body parts are not meant to be seen by the public.

What is Improper Photography?

Improper photography in Texas means taking pictures or videos of someone without their permission in places where they expect privacy, like their home, changing room, or bathroom.

The recent law is more detailed, making it illegal to:

    1. Take photos or videos of a person without their consent and with the intention of invading their privacy.
    2. Capture images of private areas when the person expects privacy.
    3. Document an individual in a changing room or bathroom.

The law now explicitly prohibits sharing or spreading such pictures. It focuses on recording someone’s private areas without permission when they expect privacy, rather than just images taken without consent to satisfy sexual desires. This clarification is particularly valuable in cases involving unauthorized photography of private parts or breaches of expected privacy, providing a clearer framework for addressing improper photography and related offenses.

Intimate Area Defined

Recording, broadcasting, or transmitting pictures or recording private parts of someone when they believe they are in a private area is against the law.

The law in Texas Penal Code Section 21.15(a)(2) says “intimate area” includes naked or covered private parts like genitals, pubic area, anus, buttocks, and women’s breasts. According to Texas Penal Code Section 21.15(a)(1), it’s against the law to record, take pictures, or share images of a woman’s breast below the top part of the areola.

How is Improper Photography Different from Voyeurism?

To simplify, improper photography involves capturing images with the intent to invade the privacy of the individual being photographed, often for sexual gratification. On the other hand, voyeurism also aims to invade the privacy of the individual being observed, but it typically entails observing someone in situations involving nakedness or engaging in sexual activity without their knowledge.

Improper Photography Recording Penalties

Unauthorized recording in Texas is a serious crime. For a first offense:

  • Charged with a state jail felony for 180 days to two years
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Probation could last from two to five years

If the person used a weapon or something else to threaten harm or death, it could lead to:

  • Charged with a third-degree felony with imprisonment from two to 10 years
  • Up to a $10,000 fine
  • 2 to 10 years of probation

It’s crucial to understand that this law doesn’t outright ban recording people.

For example, if someone records a street fight happening in public, it might not be considered a crime even if they didn’t get permission. As long as the video wasn’t meant to sexually excite someone, it’s not considered improper photography or video recording.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

Improper photography charges in Texas carry substantial weight, necessitating the expertise of a criminal defense lawyer. With clearly defined legal parameters and harsh penalties, these charges become more serious due to their association with related offenses such as photos involving minors. It underscores the complexity of the legal landscape, making professional guidance crucial for those facing such allegations.

In these cases, a criminal defense lawyer plays a pivotal role in navigating the intricacies of the law. Their understanding of the nuances surrounding improper photography enables them to construct a tailored defense strategy. Moreover, their expertise in negotiation and advocacy is essential for mitigating potential consequences and striving for a resolution that upholds principles of fairness and justice.