Introduced by Senator Sears of Bennington District, Senator Cummings of Washington District, Senator Doyle of Washington District and Senator Scott of Washington District
Subject: Crimes; lewdness; voyeurism
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to criminalize voyeurism and create a “Peeping Tom” law. The bill would prohibit a person from intentionally hiding, waiting, or loitering in a place for the purpose of viewing a person’s nudity or partially-clothed body without the consent of the person when such person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The bill also provides enhanced criminal penalties if the person records the image of the person’s nudity or partially‑clothed body, and further penalties if the person distributes these images.
AN ACT RELATING TO VOYEURISM
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 13 V.S.A. § 2638 is added to read:
§ 2638. VOYEURISM
(a) As used in this section:
(1) “Place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy” means:
(A) a place where a reasonable person would believe that he or she could disrobe in privacy, without being viewed by another without his or her consent; or
(B) a place where a person would reasonably expect to be safe from unwanted intrusion or surveillance.
(2) “Surveillance” means secret observation of the activities of another person for the purpose of spying upon and invading the privacy of the person.
(3) “Viewing” means the intentional looking upon of another person for more than a very brief period of time, in other than a casual or cursory manner, with the unaided eye or a device designed or intended to improve visual acuity.
(b) No person shall intentionally hide, wait, or otherwise loiter in the vicinity of any place of residence, locker room, dressing room, restroom, or any other place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy for the purpose of intentionally viewing a person’s nudity or partially-clothed body without such person’s knowledge and consent.
(c) No person shall intentionally photograph, film, videotape, create a digital file, or otherwise record the image of a person’s nudity or partially‑clothed body while the person is in a place of residence, locker room, dressing room, restroom, or any other place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy without that person’s knowledge and consent.
(d) No person shall disseminate any image recorded in violation of subsection (c) of this section.
(e) This section shall not apply to:
(1) Official law enforcement activities conducted in accordance with state and federal law;
(2) Official department of corrections activities for security purposes or during the investigation of alleged misconduct by a person in the custody of the department of corrections;
(3) Security surveillance for the purpose of decreasing or prosecuting theft, shoplifting, or other security surveillance measures in a bona fide business establishment;
(4) Private detectives and investigators conducting surveillance in the ordinary course of business; or
(5) Bona fide news gathering activities.
(f) For a first offense, a person who violates subsection (b) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both. For a second or subsequent offense, a person who violates subsection (b) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both. A person who violates subsection (c) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both. A person who violates subsection (d) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street