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I have been charged with Voyeurism aka "Up skirting"- what does this mean?

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What is Voyeurism?

Voyeurism is a relatively new offence which was implemented by the Voyeurism (Offences) Act, 2019 and introduced 2 new offences.

  1. A person commits voyeurism under Section 67A (1): where they operate equipment, under another person’s clothing, to enable themselves, or another person to see that person’s genital or buttocks or their underwear. The media often refer to this act as “up skirting”.
  2. Under Section 67A (2): the offence is the same as above but where the person records / films under another person’s clothing.

You may also be found guilty of an offence if you film another person doing a “private act”.

What will the prosecution need to prove?

To be found guilty of either of the above offences, the prosecution will need to prove that the accused, operated equipment, under another person’s clothing to see their genitals, buttocks or their underwear ,or they recorded under another person’s clothing – this is the physical aspect of the crime. The device or images do not need to be recovered and the person may be found guilty if the act of operating the equipment under the clothing was witnessed.

The prosecution will also need to prove that the accused intended to operate the equipment and did not reasonably believe that the other person consented. There will also need to be an intention by the perpetrator to view the images for the purposes of “sexual gratification” OR for the purpose of humiliating, alarming or distressing the victim.

You may also be guilty of attempting this crime under the Criminal Attempts Act 1861.

Can both males and females be victims of voyeurism?

Yes both male and females can be victims of this offence and is not limited to clothing items such as dresses or skirts.

What does equipment mean?

‘Equipment’ may refer to cameras, phones, video camera or other equipment and there is not a definitive list which the Court will consider in determining if something is deemed equipment for the purposes of the offence; this allows for technological advances in this area.

What if I am accused of voyeurism that happened in the past?

This law applies to England and Wales and is not retrospective which means that you cannot be charged and convicted of this act if it occurred prior to the law coming into force in April 2019.

Hasn’t there been a recent development in the law in this area?

A recent Court of Appeal judgement ruled that that a person should not be filmed doing ‘a private act’ without their consent. Therefore, this remains the case even if the perpetrator is the consensual partner of the victim.

What sentence may I receive if I am found guilty of voyeurism?

A conviction for the offence of voyeurism may lead to a sentence up to a 2 year maximum prison sentence. If the prosecution can prove that the offence was of a sexual nature, it may invoke notification requirements with the perpetrator being required to sign the Sex Offender’s register.

If you are convicted of any of these offences, and the victim is under 18 years old, or you are sentenced to custody, then you will also be made subject to the sex offenders register.

It is important that if you seek to rely on any defence for a crime in which you are accused of, you seek legal advice as early as possible including at the police station. Johnson Astills are experts in criminal law, and are able to assist 24 hours of the day whether at the Police Station or at Court. If you need advice or assistance from the crime team at Johnson Astills, please contact us on 0116 255 4855.