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COA finds voyeurism statute not vague

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The state’s voyeurism statute is not unconstitutionally vague, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded today by rejecting a man’s claims that the statute would prevent taping a surprise birthday party.

Indiana Code Section 35-45-4-5 says a person who peeps in an occupied dwelling of another person or who peeps into an area where the occupant of the area reasonably can be expected to disrobe, including restrooms, without their consent commits voyeurism. It becomes a Class D felony if the act is videotaped and the peeper has a prior unrelated conviction. Peep is defined by “any looking of a clandestine, surreptitious, prying, or secretive nature.”

Sean Chiszar challenged his convictions of Class D felony voyeurism by arguing the language of I. C. Section 35-45-4-5 would make it a criminal offense for a husband to peep into the living room and see his wife undressing. He also argued you couldn’t videotape a surprise birthday party or abusive nannies under the state’s interpretation of the statute that a person could never film another in their home unless that person knew of the filming and consented.

Police were called to Chiszar’s home after he and his girlfriend got into a fight after she woke up to discover Chiszar trying to have sex with her while videotaping it. He had videotaped his ex-wife without her consent.

The appellate court rejected his claims in Sean H. Chiszar v. State of Indiana, No. 91A04-1004-CR-290. It’s not commonplace for people to undress in their living rooms or kitchens, wrote Judge Edward Najam. Also, the crux of the statute is consent, and most of the time, spouses would have no problem seeing the other disrobe. That’s not to say peeping can’t occur in a marriage or relationship, he added.

The issue is the “looking” and as defined by the statute, there’s no reasonable purpose for that kind of looking unless it is without the other’s person’s knowledge and consent, Judge Najam wrote.

Videotaping a surprise birthday party isn’t prohibited by the statute because unless the person filming is hiding the camera and surreptitiously filming the event, there is no peeping.

The judges also found the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in admitting evidence obtained during a warrantless search, that a subsequent search warrant was supported by sufficient evidence, and that the state presented sufficient evidence to support his convictions of voyeurism and battery. Chiszar’s convictions of Class D felony possession of child pornography, and Class A misdemeanors possession of paraphernalia and marijuana were also affirmed.
 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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