When Is Invasion of Privacy a Crime in Colorado?

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Monday, 09 March 2020
What makes invasion of privacy a criminal charge? What makes invasion of privacy a criminal charge?

When You Make Someone The Unknowing Star Of Intimate Pictures or Video

With security cameras on every corner, our personal data can be easily hijacked or misused online, and devices in our homes listening to our conversations, it can seem like an invasion of privacy is now a way of life.

But while the times we live in may make it feel like privacy is a thing of the past, the law still protects us against extremely personal violations.

In Colorado, invasion of privacy can be a crime with serious consequences for those who engage in such behavior.  If you facing a criminal invasion of privacy charge in the Pikes Peak area then you should contact an experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer for a free consultation.

Criminal Invasion of Privacy in Colorado

While there are many ways to invade someone’s privacy, criminal invasion of privacy in Colorado only involves a very specific type of conduct. Specifically, the taking of pictures or videos of another person’s “intimate parts” without their consent in a location where they reasonably expect privacy is illegal.

CO Rev Stat § 18-7-801 provides that a person commits criminal invasion of privacy when they:

  • Knowingly observe or takes a photograph of another person's intimate parts,

  • Without that person's consent, 

  • In a situation where the person observed or photographed has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

As defined in the statute, “photograph” is shorthand for almost any kind of visual image. This includes pictures, motion pictures, videotape, prints, negatives, or any “other mechanically, electronically, digitally, or chemically reproduced visual material.” 

But not just any non-consensual image can be the basis of a criminal invasion of privacy charge. That image must be of another person’s “intimate parts,” which the law defines as the external: 

  • Genitalia

  • Perineum

  • Anus

  • Buttocks

  • The pubic region 

  • Breasts of any person

The third element of the crime limits the offense to pictures taken of a person when that individual had a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” There are many places where we have a reasonable expectation of privacy: public restrooms, dressing or changing rooms, or in our own homes, for example. Similarly, “upskirt” photos would be in a crime, even if taken in a public place, since the individual had a reasonable expectation of privacy from such pictures. If someone took intimate photographs or videos in such circumstances without the person knowing, that would likely constitute a criminal invasion of privacy. 

If, on the other hand, a person videotaped two people having sex in a public park, where those folks would not reasonably expect privacy, it would probably not be a crime (though the two lovebirds might face public indecency charges). 

Criminal invasion of privacy in Colorado is a class 2 misdemeanor which, upon conviction, can result in a jail sentence of three months up to one year, fines of between $250 and $1,000, or both. 

Invasion of Privacy For Sexual Gratification

All cases of criminal invasion of privacy involve images or video of a person’s “intimate parts.” But it can be an even more serious offense if the person who took those images or videos did so for “sexual gratification.” 

Invasion of privacy for sexual gratification (C.R.S. 18-3-405.6) is a separate criminal offense and a class 1 misdemeanor, the highest level of a misdemeanor under Colorado law. But it is also an “extraordinary risk” crime. That means a conviction can result in an additional six months of jail time on top of the 18 months behind bars a defendant may face for a class 1 misdemeanor. 

However, the penalties for criminal invasion of privacy for sexual gratification can be even more severe under certain circumstances and could include mandatory registration as a sex offender. 

A class 6 felony, invasion of privacy for sexual gratification is also an extraordinary risk crime if:

  • The person commits the offense after a prior conviction for unlawful sexual behavior as defined in section 16-22-102 (9), C.R.S.; or

  • The person observes or takes a photograph of the intimate parts of a person under fifteen (unless the accused is less than four years older than the victim).

Convictions for a class 6 felony and extraordinary risk crime come with a potential jail term of up to two years in prison and/or fines of up to $100,000. Mandatory sex offender registration, and all the stigma and burdens that come with it, is also a consequence of conviction. Failure to register can make an already difficult situation even worse, with additional criminal charges and more time behind bars a distinct possibility. 

Revenge Porn Is a Separate Crime

Criminal invasion of privacy involves taking non-consensual, intimate photos or videos. The related but distinct crime of “revenge porn” involves distributing such images. A person commits a class 1 misdemeanor and violates Colorado law that prohibits “posting a private image for harassment” (C.R.S.18-7-107) if he or she:

  • Posts or distributes through the use of social media or any website any photograph, video, or other image displaying the private intimate parts or sexual acts of an identified or identifiable person eighteen years of age or older;

  • With the intent to harass, intimidate, or coerce the person seen in the image or video;

  • Without the depicted person's consent; or

  • When the accused knew or should have known that the person in the image or video had a reasonable expectation that the image would remain private; and

  • The conduct results in the victim’s serious emotional distress.

If You Face Criminal Invasion of Privacy Charges, Picture Yourself Behind Bars

Taking non-consensual, intimate images of another person is no laughing matter. Charges can result in not only significant time in jail, but the criminal record can also follow you for years and decades if you need to register as a sex offender.

If you face Colorado Springs criminal invasion of privacy charges, you should contact an experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney as soon as you can.  During your free consultation, you will benefit from the expertise and experience of one of the highest-rated criminal defense attorneys in Colorado Springs. 

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