Have you Been Charged with Peeping Tom in Georgia?
Peeping toms are often associated with young teenage boys and cute neighbors or seen in many movies. However, it is actually a crime in Georgia to be a peeping tom. Citizens have a right to privacy and invading upon that right is considered an offense in Georgia. If you or a loved one has been charged with this charge, there is hope for you. The Office of Lawson and Berry and their team of Attorneys have over 50 combined years of experience in criminal law and ready to help you today.
Georgia Law on Peeping Toms
Georgia defines the term “peeping tom” as a person who peeps through windows or doors, on or about the premises of another for the purpose of spying upon or invading the privacy of the persons spied upon.
Therefore, O.C.G.A. § 16-11-60 states a person violates the peeping tom statute when they go about or upon the premises of another for the purpose of becoming a peeping tom.
Specific intent to commit the crime is an essential element of being a peeping tom. The accused must have been on or about the property for the purpose of spying on or invading the privacy of another. Davis v. State, 115 Ga. App. 338, (1967).
Furthermore, it does not matter whether the attempt to invade the privacy of another was successful. If the defendant had the intent to invade and it was accompanied by an act in furtherance of that goal, then they will be guilty of being a peeping tom. McBride v. State, 196 Ga. App. 398, (1990).
Georgia Case Law
A man named Donald Smith was found guilty of being a peeping tom in Georgia. Smith v. State, 238 Ga. App. 605, (1999). Officers were dispatched to an apartment complex due to a suspicious person call. They found Smith standing in a secluded, dark patio, three feet away from the window to an apartment, looking in at two people he did not know. He tried to leave the scene when the officers arrived. Further, two other witnesses testified they had observed him committing two other peeping tom incidents. During the trial, Smith did not present any evidence demonstrating reasons for looking in the window or negating his intent. Therefore, the Court convicted him of being a peeping tom.
What Has to be Proven to be Convicted
To be convicted of a peeping tom in Georgia, the State must demonstrate that the suspect is guilty beyond a reasonable showing. This involves proving that the accused had the specific intent to do the crime and acted with that intent as well.
Penalty for a Peeping Tom Conviction in Georgia
A conviction for peeping tom will be a felony conviction punished by prison between one and five years or a fine up to $10,000.00, or both.
Although felony convictions carry prison terms or fines, the consequences stretch even beyond that. Having a felony conviction on your record can affect you obtaining employment, credit, housing, etc. While peeping tom may seem like a minor crime, the consequences are severe.
Defenses in Georgia for Peeping Toms
Accident: Peeping tom requires there the accused have the specific intent to commit a crime. If the suspect was on another's property retrieving something, such as a dog or ball and saw people in the window, they may not be guilty of peeping tom. However, if they stayed there and spied upon the people, then they could be guilty.
There was no act: If the accused was talking about spying on others but never did it, they cannot be guilty. They must be on someone else's property invading their privacy. Just talking about it is not enough.
What are not Defenses
I didn't see anything: Even if you did not witness anything, you being on someone else's property with the intent of spying on them will be enough to convict.
I was still on my property: The statute states that a suspect can be on or about someone's property. If you were invading someone's privacy even though you were still on your property, you could still be guilty of peeping tom.
A peeping tom conviction is not one to be taken lightly. It will have a significant effect on your future as well as your family's future. Contact our offices today for a free case evaluation. We are here for you 24/7 including nights, weekends, and holidays.