According to all accounts, former San Francisco State Professor (38) (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) was the life of the party, hosting events at his apartment nearly every weekend for the past several years. Students, co-workers, and friends alike were to be found at these parties and everyone says they felt safe and secure with him, some even felt he was a role model. All that changed one night when one of the party-goers discovered a hidden camera in the box of tissues located on the back of the toilet. The camera, law enforcement officials say, was positioned in such a way that it would capture the genitalia of whoever was using the facilities at that time, especially young men. After having inspected the camera, the guest determined that he and many others had been filmed in the Professor’s home, so he turned in the camera and its memory card to the police. The professor has been arrested on charges of 15 different counts of invasion of privacy (misdemeanor).
Laws against the invasion of privacy are more commonly referred to as “Peeping Tom” laws. There are two different laws associated with this same crime: first, there is “Peeking while Loitering” or “Unlawful Peeking” (CA Penal Code 647(i)) and “Invasion of Privacy” (CA Penal Code 647(j)). The difference between the two is simple. If you are caught peeking through someone’s window or door while you are in the process of trespassing and loitering, then you could be arrested for a violation of CA PC 647(i). On the other hand, if you use any kind of device (binoculars, telescope, etc.) to spy on someone for the purposes of sexually gratifying yourself (including recording them in any private area or room), then you have violated CA PC 647(j). Penalties for the violation of either of these subsections of the law are the same: a maximum fine of $1,000 and 6 months maximum in county jail.