With the increasingly widespread use of smartphones and recording devices, charges of voyeurism are on the rise in Calgary and throughout Canada.

Most adults are not aware that recording or observing a person when they have a reasonable expectation of privacy is a criminal offence with harsh penalties.

People do, however, make honest mistakes or are genuinely unaware that they are doing anything wrong. False accusations are quite common.

Our aim at Wilson Criminal Defence is to help those wrongly accused of voyeurism from facing harsh consequences for the rest of their life – including restrictions on freedom., employment, and education, as well as an unwarranted loss of reputation in the community.

Calgary Voyeurism Lawyers

What is voyeurism? 

Voyeurism is a recent addition to the Criminal Code of Canada, made necessary in modern times partly because of the abundance of ever-smaller recording devices.

Many would argue that these devices have great potential to infringe on our privacy and may be used for sexual exploitation.

The offence of voyeurism is outlined as follows:

“Everyone commits an offence who, surreptitiously, observes — including by mechanical or electronic means — or makes a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy”

So, if you secretively observe or record someone who is nude or performing sexual acts or is in the process of doing so, you are breaking the law if there is a” reasonable expectation of privacy”.

It is not possible to list every location where an expectation of privacy exists but it is generally understood to be in places such as:

  • Showers and bathrooms (public and private)
  • Public or workplace urinals
  • Changing rooms
  • Anywhere inside a private home
  • Public baby-changing facilities

The criminal definition of voyeurism is open to interpretation. It is advisable, therefore, to engage the skills of a lawyer experienced in voyeurism charges to defend you if you are accused of voyeurism.

Typical examples of voyeurism

While the offence of voyeurism is relatively new, some examples you may have seen in the media in recent years include:

  • Using a hidden camera to record people in public washrooms;
  • Recording a roommate in their bedroom without their permission;
  • Using a hidden camera to record under people’s clothing;
  • Using a “peephole” drilled in the wall to observe someone in their bedroom;

Each of these examples involves surreptitiously watching or recording another individual without their permission, and therefore, may be classed as voyeurism.

What are the penalties for voyeurism?

Voyeurism can be treated as a summary or indictable offence in Canada. This is known as a “hybrid” offence, open to the discretion of the court depending on how serious the act of voyeurism is deemed to be.

In the most serious cases, perpetrators face up to five years in prison. This may be the case if aggravating factors were present, such as if the victim is under 18 years of age or was in the care of a person in a position of trust.

In most cases, however, voyeurism proceeds as a summary charge and carries a maximum of two years less a day in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The court will consider multiple factors in determining the seriousness of the alleged offence, including:

  • Age of the victim
  • Relationship with the victim
  • Prior convictions 
  • Use of violence or threats 
  • Recording of events
  • Location
  • Distribution of images/video
  • Attempts to conceal evidence or stop the victim from reporting the crime 
  • Level of pre-meditation

With strong legal representation from Cory Wilson, it is unlikely that you will serve any time in jail for a first voyeurism offence.

A community-based sentence may be possible, even if the Crown is seeking jail time. There are no mandatory minimum sentences even if you cannot escape a conviction. 

However, that does not mean there will not be consequences.

If convicted of voyeurism, you will have a lifelong criminal record and you are also likely to be required to register as a sex offender under the Sexual Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA). 

This can lead to problems when looking for employment (especially for positions of trust with children or the vulnerable), education, housing, and financial affairs.

The reputational damage with friends and family can also harm relationships with those you are closest to.

What are the main defences for voyeurism?

As a lawyer experienced in defending voyeurism charges, Cory Wilson will begin by listening to your side of the story and examining all of the evidence against you to see if it is admissible.

Law enforcement and the prosecution must follow strict guidelines when gathering and presenting evidence. If mistakes are made, the case may be dismissed.

Typical defences against voyeurism centre around the following arguments:

  • Location – the alleged victim did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the location he or she was in (e.g. a nudist beach).
  • Mistaken identity – the prosecution is unable to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the alleged “voyeur”.
  • Consent – the recording was not made surreptitiously and the consent of the alleged victim was provided.
  • Non-nudity – the subject of the recording was not naked or performing sexual acts.
  • Factual innocence – you were not present at the time or in the location claimed or you were not observing or recording the alleged victim.
  • Violation of charter rights – your rights before or after arrest were violated and the case should be dismissed.
  • No sexual intent – you did not intend to use the recording for sexual purposes (e.g., it was security surveillance footage).

Call us for a confidential consultation

The devastating consequences of a voyeurism conviction mean that a charge needs to be taken very seriously.

Our objective is always to get the case dismissed or secure an acquittal so that you can repair your reputation and escape a permanent criminal record.

To arrange a free, confidential case evaluation with Wilson Criminal Defence, call 403-978-6052 or email us here.

Cory Wilson is a criminal defence lawyer based in Calgary. If you have been charged with a criminal offence or are a suspect in a criminal investigation, call today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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Tel: 403-978-6052