New York Appellate Lawyer

48 Wall Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10005

Federal Criminal Appeals Throughout The United States and
New York State Criminal Appeals.

Located at 48 Wall Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY! 1-800-APPEALS (277-3257)

Peeping Toms And Your Reasonable Expectation Of Privacy


New york criminal convictions peeping tom

People v. Schreier

2014 NY Slip Op 00900

New York Court Of Appeals

Decided on February 13, 2014

The Court Of Appeals Held That One’s Own Bathroom Is A Location Where An Individual Should Expect The Utmost Privacy.  

Summary: Defendant Schreier stood outside the front door of his neighbor’s townhouse with a compact video camera and filmed her while she was naked in her bathroom. She noticed him, immediately shut the bathroom door and called police.  Upon arrival, Police noticed footsteps that concentrated between Defendant’s townhouse and her front door. Police asked Defendant about the incident and he ultimately admitted taking the video and gave the police his camera and memory card. Defendant was convicted, after a nonjury trail, of unlawful surveillance in the second degree.

The County Court denied his motion for a trial order of dismissal. The Appellate Division affirmed, finding that the evidence established that Defendant had surreptitiously recorded complainant for his own amusement, or entertainment, at a time and place where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy. A Judge of The Appellate Division granted Defendant leave to appeal. Defendant argues that there is insufficient evidence that the recording was surreptitiously made, because his conduct was out in the open and in public view. The Court Of Appeals held that Defendant’s conduct was surreptitious in nature and the judgment is affirmed.

See Also: How Private is Your Cell Phone: U.S. Supreme Court Says Its More Private Than Your House 


Issue:
Whether there is legally sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction for unlawful surveillance in the second degree and whether the recording was surreptitiously made within the meaning under Penal Law § 250.45.

Holding: Yes. The Court Of Appeals held that there was legally sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction for unlawful surveillance. The Court Of Appeals held that one’s own bathroom is a location where an individual should expect the utmost privacy.  The 6’2” Defendant had to hold the camera over his head in order to view her from her heightened window. A reasonable person would expect that the victim could disrobe with privacy in her second floor bathroom and Defendant acted surreptitiously in nature.

Facts:  Defendant stood outside the front door of his neighbor’s townhouse and used his compact video camera to film his neighbor while she was naked in her second floor bathroom, as she had just emerged from the shower. She noticed a red light through her window and saw a black-gloved hand holding a camera. She immediately closed the bathroom door and called the police. Upon arrival, Police noticed footsteps that were concentrated between Defendant’s house and complainant’s front door.

The police asked Defendant about the incident and he ultimately admitted to the video recording. Defendant consequently gave the officers his camera and memory card. The police observed that the Complainant’s window was located at the top of the stairs. An investigator for the District Attorney’s office affirmed that the placement of the window to her bathroom would not be tall enough for the average person to see into the second floor. Defendant was subsequently convicted, after a nonjury trial, of unlawful video surveillance. The County Court denied his motion for a trial order of dismissal.

The Appellate Division affirmed, finding that the evidence established that Defendant had ‘surreptitiously’ recorded complainant for his own amusement or entertainments at a time and place where she has a reasonable expectation of privacy. A Judge of The Appellate Division granted leave to appeal.  Defendant maintains that there is insufficient evidence that the recording was surreptitiously made, because his conduct was in public view. The Court Of Appeals held that Defendant’s actions were surreptitious in nature. The Court states that he recorded his neighbor where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy for his own amusement. The judgment is affirmed.

Legal Analysis: The Court of Appeals held that the term “surreptitiously” means something done by ‘stealth’ or ‘clandestinely’. Under Penal Law § 250.45 states that the perpetrator ‘made an effort to conceal his conduct or to escape detection.’ Defendant argues that there is insufficient evidence that the recording was surreptitiously made, within the meaning of the statue, because his conduct was out in the open and in public view.

In this case, an investigator from the District Attorney’s office testified that Defendant had to hold the video-recorder over his head to gain insight on his neighbor in her bathroom where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Defendant’s conduct was an unmistakable violation of complainant’s reasonable expectation of privacy. The Court Of Appeals held that there was legally sufficient evidence to support Defendant actions were surreptitious in nature. The Court Of Appeals affirmed.


Related Articles