NY Penal Law Sections 250.45 & 250.50: Your Criminal Defense & Unlawful Surveillance in the Second Degree & First Degrees

That secret video recorder you installed capturing someone undressing in a hotel bedroom, the changing room or in your tenant’s apartment may land you in serious trouble. While you may think it is funny to show your friends images of a person you filmed while you were intimate without that person knowing, it will be far from humorous when you find yourself charged with either Unlawful Surveillance in the Second Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law section 250.45 or Unlawful Surveillance in the First Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 250.50.

Although a serious offense, there may be numerous defenses to the crimes of Unlawful Surveillance pursuant to New York Penal Law sections 250.45 and 250.50. For example, did the subject of the surveillance or video consent to the recordings and is there any corroboration of that? Obviously, making such an argument where the installation is in a fitting room, bathroom or other “personal space” may be difficult. That being said, was the search of the location or computer used in the alleged crime conducted with probable cause and with a search warrant? Do you have standing to challenge that search? Whatever the facts, discuss the them with your New York criminal defense attorney to ascertain and implement the best defense you deem appropriate. Having briefly glossed over the severity of the crime and potential defenses, the follow are the definitions involving Unlawful Surveillance in New York:

A person is guilty of Unlawful Surveillance in the Second Degree when:

1. For his or her own, or another person’s amusement, entertainment, or profit, or for the purpose of degrading or abusing a person, he or she intentionally uses or installs, or permits the utilization or installation of an imaging device to surreptitiously view, broadcast or record a person dressing or undressing or the sexual or other intimate parts of such person at a place and time when such person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, without such person’s knowledge or consent; or

2. For his or her own, or another person’s sexual arousal or sexual gratification, he or she intentionally uses or installs, or permits the utilization or installation of an imaging device to surreptitiously view, broadcast or record a person dressing or undressing or the sexual or other intimate parts of such person at a place and time when such person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, without such person’s knowledge or consent; or

3. (a) For no legitimate purpose, he or she intentionally uses or installs, or permits the utilization or installation of an imaging device to surreptitiously view, broadcast or record a person in a bedroom, changing room, fitting room, restroom, toilet, bathroom, washroom, shower or any room assigned to guests or patrons in a motel, hotel or inn, without such person’s knowledge or consent.

(b) For the purposes of this subdivision, when a person uses or installs, or permits the utilization or installation of an imaging device in a bedroom, changing room, fitting room, restroom, toilet, bathroom, washroom, shower or any room assigned to guests or patrons in a hotel, motel or inn, there is a rebuttable presumption that such person did so for no legitimate purpose; or

4. Without the knowledge or consent of a person, he or she intentionally uses or installs, or permits the utilization or installation of an imaging device to surreptitiously view, broadcast or record, under the clothing being worn by such person, the sexual or other intimate parts of such person.

Unlawful Surveillance in the Second Degree is a class E felony punishable by up to four years in state prison.

If you have perpetrated this offense in the previous ten years and you are again charged with this crime, you may face the crime of Unlawful Surveillance in the First Degree, New York Penal Law section 250.50, a “D” felony, punishable by up to seven years in state prison.

Crotty Saland PC is a criminal defense firm located in New York. Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, Crotty Saland PC represents clients throughout the New York City region.

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