In NSW, voyeurism is a serious criminal offence that carries a maximum penalty of 100 penalty units and/or 2 years imprisonment. In circumstances of aggravation the penalty increases to 5 years imprisonment.
What is Voyeurism?
There is a general voyeurism offence and an aggravated form of the offence.
General Offence of Voyeurism
The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) Section 91J(1) makes it an offence for a person to:
- observe a person who is engaged in a private act,
- do so without the consent of the person being observed; and
- knowing that the person being observed does not consent to being observed for that purpose.
The maximum penalty for the general offence is 100 penalty units and/or 2 years imprisonment.
Aggravated Offence of Voyeurism
Section 91J(4) of the Crimes Act 1900 contains the aggravated version of this offence. The offence is aggravated where:
- the person whom the offender observed was a child under the age of 16 years, or
- the offender constructed or adapted the fabric of any building for the purpose of facilitating the commission of the offence.
The maximum penalty for the aggravated offence is 5 years imprisonment.
What Actions Might Constitute Voyeurism?
The following actions might constitute voyeurism:
- installing a video camera in a public bathroom;
- taking photographs of women in bikinis at the beach;
- watching your neighbour undress.
What The Police Must Prove
To convict a person of a voyeurism offence the police must prove that the accused:
- observed a person engaged in a private act; and
- did so without their consent;
- knowing that they did not consent;
and in circumstances of aggravation:
- that the person observed was under the age of 16 years; or
- that the offender constructed or adapted the fabric of any building for the purposes of facilitating the commission of the offence.
Possible Defences to a Voyeurism Charge
It is possible to defend this charge by:
- arguing that you did not observe a person in a private act;
- arguing that the person being observed had consented to being observed;
- arguing that they genuinely believed they had the consent of the person being watched for that purpose;
- raising necessity or duress as the reason for the conduct.
In circumstances of aggravation:
- arguing that the person was not aged under 16 years;
- arguing that you did not construct or adapt the fabric of any building for the purposes of facilitating the commission of the offence.
What Court Will Deal With My Matter?
The general offence under section 91L(1) is a summary offence and the matter must be finalised in the Local Court.
The aggravated offence, under section 91L(4) is a Table 1 Offence. That means that the matter will be finalised in the Local Court unless the offender or the prosecution elect to have the matter finalised in the District Court. If the matter is finalised in the Local Court the jurisdictional limit is 2 years imprisonment, meaning the court cannot impose a sentence greater than that. If the matter is finalised in the District Court, a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment can be imposed.
In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:
- Prison Sentence
- Home Detention
- Intensive Corrections Order (ICO)
- Suspended Sentence
- Community Service Order (CSO)
- Community Corrections Orders (CCO)
- Good Behaviour Bond
- Section 10A
- Conditional Release Order (CRO)
- Section 10
If you require any legal advice in relation to voyeurism or any other legal matter, call Armstrong Legal on 1300 038 223 or send us an email.