Timothy Burnette, a former Oconee High School custodian, was arrested on January 11 after police were notified of the crimes reported by school officials. Burnette was allegedly filming high school girls while they were changing in the locker room with his cell phone. On Wednesday, he was indicted on two federal counts of child pornography. He is still facing state charges of unlawful eavesdropping and surveillance.
The fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects…” Alluding that we have a right to our privacy, and that it should not be invaded without permission. The state of Georgia has made it unlawful to eavesdrop, spy, or intercept other's communication.
Let's look into the charge that Burnette is facing in Georgia.
Georgia law defines this offense by O.C.G.A. §16-11-62. A person is guilty of violating §16-11-62 if he or she:
- “By intentionally overhearing, transmitting, recording or attempting to overhear, transmit, or record the private conversation of another that originates in any public place;
- By using a device to observe, photograph, or record the activities of another that occur in a private place out of public view without the consent of the persons being observed;
- By going on or about the premises of another or any private place for the purpose of invading the privacy of others by eavesdropping on their conversations or secretly observing their activities;
- By intentionally and secretly trying to intercept by the use of any device, instrument, or apparatus the contents of a message sent by telephone, telegraph, letter, or by any other means of private communication;
- By divulging to any unauthorized person or authority the content or substance of a private message;
- By selling, giving, or distributing, without legal authority, any photograph, videotape, or recording of the activities of another which occur in any private place and out of public view without the consent of all persons observed.”
In order to be convicted, the state of Georgia will have to prove that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Here, the state must show that the accused person acted with intent to invade the privacy of another. The penalty is a felony conviction including a prison sentence between one and five years, a fine anywhere up to $10,000, or both.
There are Georgia Criminal Defenses to a charge of Eavesdropping, Surveillance, or Intercepting Communication Between Private Parties. First, if you unintentionally eavesdropped, spied, or intercepted communication. Next, if you didn't do anything with the information gathered, then you aren't in violation of the statute. Also, if you had consent to listen to a conversation or record it from the party.
A felony conviction is serious. If you or a loved one has been charged with Eavesdropping, Surveillance, or Intercepting Communication Between Private Parties, contact a top-rated Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer today.