Clandestine photographs of a 15-year-old female relative of a Sonoma County man (44) were the reason for his arrest and recent sentencing. The man, who once worked as a prison guard in Mendocino County, was caught with a flash drive containing photographs of the teenage relative he lived with. Her mother evidently found the flash drive when she washed his uniform and immediately alerted law enforcement agents to its contents. As it turns out, the drive contained sexually explicit images of the girl, which had been taken without her knowledge as she went about her daily routine in the bathroom and her bedroom of their shared home. He has been sentenced to 1 year in jail for peeping and possession of child pornography (CA Penal Code 311).
Many Bay area residents may already be familiar with the consequences of possessing child pornography. However, they may not be aware of just how serious ‘Peeping Tom’ charges can be in the state of California. In reality, there are 2 California laws that, when taken together, make up a set of ‘peeping’ violations. Whereas CA Penal Code 647(I) deals directly with ‘Peeping Tom’ behavior, CA Penal Code 647(j) (Invasion of Privacy) may also be applied.
Normally, CA PC 647(i) covers situations in which an individual is trespassing on private property in order to peek through a window or door of a residence. Thus, this violation is technically considered ‘peeking while loitering.’ However CA PC 647(j) is a bit more intricate. In the main, anything from watching someone through binoculars or a telescope in order to invade their privacy to taking photographs or video recordings of persons in a private setting (like their bedroom) in order to see them nude (or in their underwear). Violating either of these sections of the law could end in up to $1,000 in fines and 6 months in county jail.