The Maine Law covering Violation of Privacy can be described as a peeping Tom law. Looking in someone else’s window is commonly characterized as being a “peeping Tom.” Violation of Privacy has more depth than “peeping” . Violation of Privacy, according to Maine Law, is recording someone who otherwise has a reasonable expectation of not being recorded such as in our homes, department store changing rooms, and public restrooms.
Violation of Privacy can have serious consequences. If convicted of a criminal charge, you will have a criminal conviction added to your permanent criminal record. Under specific circumstances, Violation of Privacy conviction can get you designated as a sex offender. Sex offenders are required to register publicly under Maine’s SORNA law for a period of 10 years up to a lifetime.
If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges of Violation of Privacy, you should consider contacting The Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation with an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer.
A charge of Violation of Privacy can have serious consequences. This article will provide a high level overview of the key concern. After the article, you should understand what steps you can take to help your defense:
- Does the Maine Law: Violation of Privacy protect my computer information?
- What is the Status for Violation of Privacy?
- How can a sex crimes defense attorney help?
Please be in contact with your questions that we did not go over in this article. Our goal is to provide you with an honest assessment of your case at your initial consultation.
Does Violation of Privacy protect my Computer Information?
No, This Maine Statute for Violation of Privacy does not cover the issue of privacy online or your computer privacy. There is a different area of law that addresses that online privacy.
What is the Statute for Violation of Privacy?
Under Maine Statute 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 511, Violation of Privacy is a Class D misdemeanor. The Statute reads:
A person is guilty of violation of privacy if, except in the execution of a public duty or as authorized by law, that person intentionally:
- Commits a civil trespass on property with the intent to overhear or observe any person in a private place;
- Installs or uses in a private place without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy in that place, any device for observing, photographing, recording, amplifying or broadcasting sounds or events in that place;
- Installs or uses outside a private place without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy therein, any device for hearing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting sounds originating in that place that would not ordinarily be audible or comprehensible outside that place; or
- Engages in visual surveillance in a public place by means of mechanical or electronic equipment with the intent to observe or photograph, or record, amplify or broadcast an image of any portion of the body of another person present in that place when that portion of the body is in fact concealed from public view under clothing and a reasonable person would expect it to be safe from surveillance.
Let’s walk through the detailed legal description of violation of privacy piece by piece. Here, a “private place” means a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from surveillance. A “private place” includes, but is not limited to, changing rooms, dressing rooms, bathrooms, and similar places. A special caveat here is that if you are convicted of the offense under the section involving recording underneath other people’s clothing, this offense will trigger mandatory registration under Maine’s SORNA law.
The following are possible examples of what a Violation of Privacy could look like:
- The defendant trespasses on his neighbor’s property to place a video camera with audio outside the neighbor’s bathroom window looking inside.
- The defendant installs a video camera inside a department store changing room. Only the defendant knows that the camera is there.
- The defendant installs an audio recorder inside a public bathroom to hear the sounds and conversations occurring in the public bathroom.
- The defendant uses a recording device in
public, snapping photographs of underneath other people’s clothing.
- If convicted of the offense involving taking pictures under the clothing, this would trigger SORNA designation.
An important element to the crime of Violation of Privacy is the state of mind of the defendant. Did the person mean to do it? A good criminal defense attorney will take this into consideration when determining your legal defense strategy.
Maine law recognizes a narrow affirmative defense to this charge. If the person being photographed is at least 14 years old and has consented to the surveillance, then it is not a Violation of Privacy. In other words, if the subject of the recording agrees to being photographed or recorded, then it is not a Violation of privacy. Violation of Privacy is not criminal when such recording devices are used for law enforcement purposes, such as in an ongoing investigation.
If convicted of Violation of Privacy, the maximum penalties for a Class D misdemeanor conviction includes up to $2,000.00 in fines and up to 364 days jail time. If convicted under the statute paragraph involving recording under people’s clothing, then the collateral consequences would also require mandatory sex offender registration under SORNA.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help?
If facing a criminal charge of Violation of Privacy, you could end up with a criminal record, or even a registered sex offender. A criminal record and sex offender registration are things that can limit your life and employment opportunities. If you go to Court alone, the State will want you to enter a guilty plea as charged. For these reasons, you need to fight the charge against you, and you need someone with the expertise to advocate for you at Court.
- Are all of the elements of the crime met? In other words, can the State meet all of the elements of the statute to convict? A criminal defense attorney will evaluate your case again the elements of the law and explain to you where your case lies with the evidence collected.
- Is the State’s evidence only circumstantial? The evidence needs to point to the defendant for a conviction. If the evidence is not clear, then this is significant.
- Where is the recording in question? From a criminal defense perspective, when the crime contemplates a video or audio recording, the State should be able to produce that recording.
What are the Potential Outcomes for Violation of Privacy?
Here are some potential outcomes for a criminal charge of Violation of Privacy in Maine:
- Deferred Disposition– In some Courts, deferred dispositions are harder to get. In a deferred disposition, a guilty plea is entered and sentencing is postponed for a period of time. During the “deferment” of the sentence, you are expected to exhibit good behavior and jumping through certain hoops. If successful, then after the “deferment” period you can get a dismissal of the charge at the end, or other beneficial outcome.
- Plea Deal– In a plea arrangement or plea deal, the State agrees to convict on a modified or different charge than the one that was charged initially.
- Jury Verdict– A jury is a finder of fact, and one way to determine whether in fact there was a reasonable expectation of privacy, and thus a Violation of Privacy, is to put the case in front of a jury. A jury verdict determines final guilt or innocence.
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