A Houston-area student was arrested for sharing a video of a classmate’s private parts, and he now faces a felony criminal charge.
According to KHOU-11 News, authorities said the male Cypress Falls High School student, 17, recorded a video of a classmate in a bathroom stall and then shared it with friends.
The student was later arrested and charged as an adult with the state jail felony crime of invasive visual recording.
Court documents indicate that the incident occurred last week when the student pointed the camera of his phone over the top of a bathroom stall and recorded another student using the facility. The video reportedly showed the other student’s penis.
Court documents also stated that the student shared the video he took with his friends.
School police first investigated and identified the student who took the video, who reportedly admitted to doing it. The student was then arrested and placed in Harris County Jail, though he later bonded out.
KHOU reports that the student’s next court appearance is set for May and that, according to court records, he has not yet hired a defense lawyer.
Intimate video crimes are common in Texas
Sending a photo of a person’s intimate areas without their consent is a crime in Texas. Prosecutors say such cases are fairly common in the state’s juvenile system and even include cases that involve middle-school students.
“I think students, nowadays, because smartphones are so accessible, might take this lightly,” said Assistant District Attorney Michelle Anderson. “They don’t realize there is a victim on the other side of it, and it can be humiliating and even damaging to the victim as well.”
In a statement, Cy-Fair ISD said, “In addition to legal action, disciplinary consequences will be issued to any student determined to be involved, according to the CFISD Student Code of Conduct.” The district did not specify what such disciplinary consequences would be.
Being accused of a crime doesn’t mean you’re guilty. Learn what an attorney can do to protect your rights if you’ve been charged with a sex crime in Texas.
Texas laws on improper photography, invasive visual recording
You may be wondering about the nature of Texas laws on invasive visual recording and what is known as improper photography.
Texas Penal Code Section 21.15 on sexual offenses states that some photography is a crime if it’s done without the consent of the subject.
Photography is a crime if the offender:
- Photographs, videotapes or uses some other electronic means to record, broadcast or transmit a visual image of another person in a bathroom or private dressing room without their consent with the intent to invade the privacy of the other person or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.
- Photographs, videotapes or uses some other electronic means to record, broadcast or transmit a visual image of another person without their consent with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.
Basically, the law provides that it’s illegal to take photos or videos of a person’s intimate areas when that person has a reasonable expectation that they are not subject to public viewing. That includes images taken of a person in a store’s changing room or a public bathroom stall.
It’s also illegal to issue, give, provide, deliver, distribute, loan, sell, manufacture, transmit, transfer, publish, circulate, mail or otherwise disseminate such images. Additionally, anyone who receives such images and forwards them to another person also commits an offense if they knew that the person in the images did not give their consent to being photographed or videotaped.
The crime could even be considered child pornography if the person in the images was a minor—that is, less than 18 years old under Texas law. Persons who send lewd images of a minor via texts can also be charged with a crime for such “sexting.”
Learn when sexting is considered a crime and the potential punishments under Texas law.
Penalties and punishments for improper photography, invasive visual recording
The punishments for such crimes can be extreme in Texas.
State jail felonies can involve a sentence of 6 months to 2 years in prison, a fine of as much as $10,000 and having to register as a sex offender.
Get a skilled sex crime defense lawyer
Persons who face a charge of invasive visual recording or improper photography should hire a skilled sex crime defense lawyer to defend their legal rights.
It could be argued that the subject of the images did consent to being photographed or that the images did not fully display the subject’s private parts. Another defense may be that the person charged with the crime did not actually record the images and that the case involves mistaken identity.
In addition, your Texas sex crime defense attorney could establish that evidence was gained without proper and legal search warrants.
Keep in mind that prosecutors in cases that could lead to jail time have the burden of proof to establish that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense lawyer must simply establish that there’s a reasonable doubt.
Also, keep in mind that if the subject of the improper images is hesitant to proceed with a public trial that would reveal their identity, a defense lawyer might be able to gain a plea bargain agreement with prosecutors. Such a plea deal could lead to a reduction in the charge or even a dismissal of it.