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Improper photography charges in Texas

Improper Photography Charges In Texas

What is Improper Photography in Texas?

Penal Code Section 21.15 outlines instances in which taking a photograph is illegal in Texas. It is illegal to photograph a person with the intent to invade another’s privacy in a changing room or bathroom, an intimate area of another person without their permission while a person has a reasonable expectation that the intimate area is not in public view.

Here’s a breakdown of the key elements of this law:

  1. Illegal Photography or Recording: It’s an offense to photograph or record a person without their consent, and with the intent to arouse or gratify sexual desire. This applies to images captured by any means, including cameras, cell phones, or other electronic means.
  2. Expectation of Privacy: The law specifically targets situations where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as in dressing rooms, bathrooms, or their own home. However, it can also apply to public places if the manner of recording violates the privacy of the subject.
  3. Distribution: It is also an offense to promote a photo or video obtained in such a manner, which typically means sharing or distributing the material without consent.
  4. Penalties: The penalties for committing improper photography or visual recording can be quite severe, generally ranging from a state jail felony to a third-degree felony depending on the circumstances and whether it involves distribution.

What Acts Are Illegal Under the Improper Photography Statute?

The statute covers recording, broadcasting, and transmitting visual images and video recordings.

What is an “Intimate Area” for Purposes of Improper Photography?

An intimate area for purposes of this statute includes the naked or clothed genitals, pubic area, anus, buttocks, or female breasts of a person.

Legal Consequences of Improper Photography in Texas

Penalties For Improper Photography

In Texas, improper photography is a state jail felony, punishable by:

  • 180 days to 2 years in a state jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000


Impact On Personal And Professional Life

A conviction for improper photography can have lasting effects on an individual’s personal and professional life, including:

  • A permanent criminal record
  • Loss of employment opportunities
  • Difficulty obtaining housing or loans
  • Strained personal relationships

What are Possible Defenses to Improper Photography?

There are a number of defenses to Improper Photography, including attacks on whether an individual had a reasonable expectation that the intimate area was not in public view and whether the accused took the photograph with the intent to invade the privacy of another.

Voyeurism, Upskirting, & Downblousing Under Texas Law


It is no longer a crime in Texas to take “upskirt” or “downblouse” photographs. The Court of Criminal Appeals in Texas voted 8-to-1 holding a portion of the improper photography statute in Texas unconstitutional.

If you will remember, we covered the upskirting issue in our companion blog, Texas Evidence,  after Massachusetts ruled that it was not illegal to secretly photograph under a person’s clothing.

Defense Strategies for Improper Photography Charges

Challenging The Intent

One possible defense is to challenge the intent behind the photography. For the charge to stick, the prosecution must prove that the accused intended to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person. Proving intent can be difficult, and a skilled attorney can raise reasonable doubt.

Consent Or Reasonable Expectation Of Privacy

Another defense strategy is to argue that the subject gave consent or that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy. If it can be shown that the person willingly participated or was in a public place where privacy could not be expected, the charges may be dismissed.

Is Improper Photography a Crime in Texas?

Although portions of this statute were found to be unconstitutional, it is still illegal (and a state jail felony) to take photographs of a person in a bathroom or dressing room without consent and with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one has been charged with Improper Photography in Texas, contact us immediately at (817) 203-2220 or online.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Improper Photography In Texas?

The statute of limitations for improper photography in Texas is three years. This means that the prosecution has three years from the date of the alleged offense to bring charges against the accused.

Can Improper Photography Charges Be Expunged From My Record?

In some cases, improper photography charges may be eligible for expunction if you meet certain criteria, such as being acquitted or having the charges dismissed.

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