Everyone must follow Texas photography laws. No one is allowed to take a photo or to record anything they want. There are legal limits based on the right to privacy. When you violate someone’s privacy with improper photography, you could go to prison, pay a fine, and have a permanent criminal record.
When someone alleges you took photos of them when they expected privacy, you may face felony-level charges. If convicted, you face severe penalties. To defend against invasive visual recording charges, contact a Houston sex crime lawyer at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767.
Texas Improper Photography Law
According to the Texas Penal Code Section 21.15 – Invasive Visual Recording makes it a crime for you to photograph, record, or transmit the following without consent:
- The intimate area of another individual, if they believed the public would not see that area
- An image of someone in a bathroom or changing room
Definition of Transmitting Images
Under Texas law, it is illegal to send improper photos or recordings through the internet, phone, email, videotape, and other methods used to transfer images and videos.
What is Improper Photography or Visual Recording?
The Invasive Visual Recording statute leaves room to argue that your images do not meet the standards of the law. Attorney Ned Barnett can use the loose definition of improper photography to seek a dismissal, reduced charges, or an acquittal.
Intimate Areas and Improper Photography
It is illegal to photograph or record someone else’s intimate area when they expect that part of their body to be private.
Texas Penal Code Section 21.15(a)(2) defines “intimate area” as:
- Naked or clothed genitals
- Pubic area
- Women’s breasts
Under Texas Penal Code Section 21.15(a)(1), it is illegal to record, photograph, or transmit images of the female breast below the top of the areola.
An example of an illegal photograph or recording under this law is photographing up a woman’s skirt when in a public place. The woman was wearing clothing in public, so it is reasonable to assume she expected her pubic area and buttocks to remain private from those around her.
Some states have specifically outlawed “upskirt” images. In Texas, any photo of a person’s intimate parts without consent is illegal.
Invasive Visual Recording in Changing Rooms
A changing room is any area provided or primarily used for changing clothes, including dressing rooms in stores, locker rooms in schools and sports facilities, and changing rooms at pools and beaches.
A changing room can exist in a myriad of places and in various forms. The prosecutor and judge are likely to look at the law’s intent regarding whether you violated the privacy of a changing room.
Promotion of Invasive Visual Recordings
Texas law states that promoting improper photography includes manufacturing, selling, giving, providing, or otherwise offering to do one of these things.
Invasive Visual Recording Penalties
Invasive visual recording in Texas is a state jail felony.
- 180 days, up to two years, in state jail
- Fine of up to $10,000
- Probation punishment (instead of jail) ranges from two to five years and a maximum fine of $10,000
Suppose the accused used a firearm or other object to threaten or inflict injury or death. In that case, the penalty is a third-degree felony.
- Two to 10 years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Probation two to 10 years with a maximum fine of $10,000
Defenses Against Improper Photography Charges in Texas
It is possible to clear your name and avoid punishment for improper photography charges. Attorney Barnett is a former prosecutor who uses his insight and knowledge to your advantage. He is also one of the few criminal defense attorneys in Texas to earn a specialized certificate in criminal law.
Attorney Barnett understands the dire consequences you face if convicted on improper photography charges. He and his team use their resources and experience to defend you against false or unsubstantiated accusations. If he cannot persuade the prosecution to drop the charges against you, attorney Barnett is a skilled trial lawyer with many courtroom victories to his name.
No Lack of Consent
If there is evidence to support it, a strong defense is that you had the other party’s consent. Despite what the activity may look like, the subject of your photos or recording may have permitted you to take the actions you did. Depending on the images or recording content, we may argue that they do not display intimate areas.
Mistake of Identity
Another possible defense is that there has been a mistake of identity. You may be identified as the culprit even though you did not commit the crime. In this situation, we typically seek to prove you have an alibi.
Lack of Sufficient Evidence
We may use a different strategy to argue that the prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence to prove you committed the offense. It is the prosecutor’s job to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If we can create reasonable doubt, we could convince the jury that the prosecution lacks evidence against you. This could lead to your acquittal.
Depending on your case, these defense options may be available. Your sex crimes lawyer in Houston could even negotiate with the prosecutor to obtain a plea agreement if the circumstances warrant it.
Taking Improper Pictures of Minors in Texas
Texas law regarding improper photography encompasses victims of any age. You are likely to be charged with improper photography if you victimize an adult. However, if the victim is a minor, you may face harsher sex crime charges.
When Improper Photography Becomes Child Pornography in Texas
Under Texas Penal Code Section 43.26, it is illegal to create, possess, own, or otherwise distribute any visual imagery of children involved in sex acts. Child pornography is a serious offense. Depending on the circumstances and your criminal history, you may face third, second, or first-degree felony charges.
Examples of Child Pornography
You can be charged with the production of child pornography if you take photos of teenagers changing their clothing in a locker room. Child pornography charges may also apply if you are convicted of sexting a minor. You could be arrested on child porn charges if you record another adult sexually abusing or assaulting a child.
Penalties for Invasive Visual Recording of a Child
Child pornography is a third-degree felony offense for first-time convictions punishable by:
- Up to 10 years in prison
- A maximum fine of $10,000
- Registering as a sex offender
These penalties increase with each subsequent commission of the offense.
Further Consequences of Child Pornography Conviction
Going to prison, paying a steep fine, or spending years on probation are just a few of the consequences of a child pornography conviction. Your life is affected in other ways, such as:
- Child custody issues
- Probation or parole requirements
- Immigration or citizenship issue
- Loss of firearm rights
- Loss of eligibility for federal student aid
- Trouble finding safe, affordable housing
- Difficulty finding gainful employment
When the penalties are this harsh, you must take action to defend yourself. Your improper photography lawyer in Houston can help you figure out which defense strategy is most likely to produce a favorable outcome in your case.
Contact a Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer For Help Today
Are you charged with improper photography in Texas? You want an experienced sex crimes defense attorney to protect your interests and rights between you and the prosecution.