August 30, 2017 By Stephen Klarich

What Does Peeping Tom Mean Under California Law?

“Peeping tom” is a term you may have heard before. In layman’s terms, it refers to someone who attempts to “peep” on others (typically when they may be nude) while they are in a private place. There are laws in California that make this type of behavior illegal. Let’s dive into those laws and how they define what Peeping Tom means.

What Does Peeping Tom Mean Under the Law?

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Our attorneys understand Peeping Tom laws.

Under California Penal Code Section 647(i), it is unlawful to loiter, prowl or wander upon the private property of another person and peek in any door or window of an inhabited building or structure without visible or lawful business with the owner or occupant. This crime is called “peeking while loitering.”

Additionally, PC 647(j) makes it unlawful to use certain devices to look through a hole or opening to invade another person’s privacy in a location where a person normally expects privacy. The devices this law refers to include cameras, binoculars, cellphones, telescopes and any other devices that can be used to spy on someone. This crime is considered an invasion of privacy.

Together, these two sections of PC 647 constitute Peeping Tom offenses in California. If you are accused of violating Peeping Tom laws, you could also face a number of other charges as well, including:

  • Burglary (PC 459)
  • Loitering (PC 647(h))
  • Trespassing or Entering Into a Dwelling (PC 602.5(a)(b))
  • Federal Criminal Voyeurism (18 U.S.C. 1801)

Punishment for Peeping Tom Violations

To be convicted of loitering and peeking under PC 647(i), the prosecution must prove all of the following elements:

  • You loitered, prowled or wandered on another person’s private property
  • You did not have a lawful purpose for being on that property, and
  • You peeked through a door or window of an inhabited building when you were on the property

To be convicted of invasion of privacy under PC 647(j), the prosecution must prove that you:

  • Willingly looked through a hole or opening
  • Looked into a bedroom, bathroom, dressing room or another place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy
  • Used a device such as a cellphone, binoculars, telescope or video camera, and
  • Had the intent to invade another person’s privacy when looking through the hole or opening with the device

Loitering and peeking and invasion of privacy are both misdemeanor offenses under PC 647. If convicted of either of these crimes, you face up to six months in county jail and fines of up to $1,000. You could also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life under PC 290 if it is determined that your crime was committed for the purposes of sexual compulsion or gratification.

How to Find a Peeping Tom Lawyer Near Me

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Call our Peeping Tom attorneys now!

If you or a loved one has been accused of violating California’s Peeping Tom laws, you should seek the help of experienced sex crimes attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled and knowledgeable sex crimes lawyers have over 35 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing Peeping Tom charges. Let us help you now.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Los Angeles, West Covina, Torrance and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.

Call us now at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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