With the increasingly popularity and availability of commercial drones – the dangers of invasion of privacy charges have escalated exponentially – as a recent couple in Utah just learned.
A Utah man and his girlfriend were recently arrested on voyeurism charges for flying a drone and taping people in their homes.
While I have written about the subject of Colorado’s Invasion of Privacy laws before – it the drone “spin” that adds a new component.
Colorado Basic Invasion Of Privacy Law – 18-7-801
Under Colorado Law :
– any person who knowingly observes or takes a photograph of another person’s intimate parts without that person’s consent, and in a situation where the person photographed has a reasonable expectation of privacy, commits criminal invasion of privacy.
A “Photograph” includes a photograph, motion picture, videotape, live feed, print, negative, slide, or other mechanically, electronically, digitally, or chemically reproduced visual material.
When the District Attorney believes he has enough evidence to charge invasion of privacy for “sexual gratification” – the following enhanced law – 18-3-405.6 – applies:
§ 18-3-405.6. Invasion of Privacy for Sexual Gratification
(1) A person who knowingly observes 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, for the purpose of the observer’s own sexual gratification, commits unlawful invasion of privacy for sexual gratification.
(2) (a) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection (2), invasion of privacy for sexual gratification is a class 1 misdemeanor and is an extraordinary risk crime subject to the modified sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-501(3).
(b) Invasion of privacy for sexual gratification is a class 6 felony and is an extraordinary risk crime subject to the modified sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-401(10) if either of the following circumstances exist:
(I) The offense is committed subsequent to a prior conviction, as defined in section 16-22-102(3), C.R.S., for unlawful sexual behavior as defined in section 16-22-102(9), C.R.S.; or
(II) The person observes or takes a photograph of the intimate parts of a person under fifteen years of age. This subparagraph (II) shall not apply if the defendant is less than four years older than the person observed or photographed.
(3) For purposes of this section, “photograph” includes a photograph, motion picture, videotape, live feed, print, negative, slide, or other mechanically, electronically, or chemically produced or reproduced visual material.
Understanding The Colorado Sex Crime Enhancement In Colorado Invasion Of Privacy Cases
To prove the crime of Invasion of Privacy for Sexual Gratification is more difficult than it might first appear. The State has to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the Defendant’s intent in the context of the intrusion was to receive sexual gratification.
While the District Attorney may try to prove the enhanced charge – it is tough to prove circumstantially (without a confession) that a person’s intent was sexual and not just mischievous.
The Drone And The Colorado Crime Of Eavesdropping 18-9-304
One last point. Using a drone to listen in on the conversations of others may also be charged as a criminal act. This crime is called eavesdropping – and here is a LINK to an article I have written about the law. What follows is a reprint of Colorado’s wiretapping laws.
18-9-303. Wiretapping Prohibited – Penalty
(1) Any person not a sender or intended receiver of a telephone or telegraph communication commits wiretapping if he:
(a) Knowingly overhears, reads, takes, copies, or records a telephone, telegraph, or electronic communication without the consent of either a sender or a receiver thereof or attempts to do so; or
(b) Intentionally overhears, reads, takes, copies, or records a telephone, telegraph, or electronic communication for the purpose of committing or aiding or abetting the commission of an unlawful act; or
(c) Knowingly uses for any purpose or discloses to any person the contents of any such communication, or attempts to do so, while knowing or having reason to know the information was obtained in violation of this section; or
(d) Knowingly taps or makes any connection with any telephone or telegraph line, wire, cable, or instrument belonging to another or with any electronic, mechanical, or other device belonging to another or installs any device whether connected or not which permits the interception of messages; or
(f) Knowingly uses any apparatus to unlawfully do, or cause to be done, any act prohibited by this section or aids, authorizes, agrees with, employs, permits, or intentionally conspires with any person to violate the provisions of this section.
(2) Wiretapping is a class 6 felony; except that, if the wiretapping involves a cordless telephone, it is a class 1 misdemeanor.
18-9-304. Eavesdropping Prohibited – Penalty
(1) Any person not visibly present during a conversation or discussion commits eavesdropping if he:
(a) Knowingly overhears or records such conversation or discussion without the consent of at least one of the principal parties thereto, or attempts to do so; or
(b) Intentionally overhears or records such conversation or discussion for the purpose of committing, aiding, or abetting the commission of an unlawful act; or
(c) Knowingly uses for any purpose, discloses, or attempts to use or disclose to any other person the contents of any such conversation or discussion while knowing or having reason to know the information was obtained in violation of this section; or
(d) Knowingly aids, authorizes, agrees with, employs, permits, or intentionally conspires with any person to violate the provisions of this section.
(2) Eavesdropping is a class 6 felony.
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The reader is admonished that Colorado criminal law, like criminal law in every state and at the Federal level, changes constantly. The article appearing above was accurate at the time it was drafted but it cannot account for changes occurring after it was uploaded.
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