Section 91J Crimes Act 1900 | Voyeurism


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“Voyeurism” refers to situations where you spy on, watch or observe another person without their permission.

In certain situations, voyeurism is against the law and may result in heavy penalties.

Section 91J of the Crimes Act says that you can be charged with a criminal offence if you observe someone engaged in a private act without their permission, and knowing that they have not given you permission to watch them.

A “private act” is any act which involves a person being undressed – such as using the toilet, showing, bathing or engaging in a sexual act.

“Private acts” may also include acts that a reasonable person would expect to perform in private, away from prying eyes.

Before you can be found guilty of this offence, the prosecution must also show that you observed the other person for the purpose of obtaining sexual arousal or gratification.

If found guilty of voyeurism, you could face a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of up to $11,000.

You may also face harsher penalties if you commit the offence in “circumstances of aggravation,” which are essentially factors which make the offence more serious.

You will commit the offence in circumstances of aggravation if the prosecution prove that the person you were watching was a child under the age of 16, or where you “adapted the fabric of any building for the purpose of facilitating the commission of the offence.”

An example of “adapting the fabric” of a building might be if you drilled holes in a wall or ceiling so that you could watch someone.

If you are found guilty of an aggravated offence, the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment.

Our expert defence team can assist you in fighting the charges to avoid these onerous penalties by pushing to have the charges dropped early on and raising all possible defences.

The Legislation

Section 91J of the Crimes Act deals with the offence of “voyeurism” and reads as follows:

91J Voyeurism

(1) General offence A person who, for the purpose of obtaining sexual arousal or sexual gratification, observes a person who is engaged in a private act:

(a) without the consent of the person being observed to being observed for that purpose, and

(b) knowing that the person being observed does not consent to being observed for that purpose,

is guilty of an offence. Maximum penalty: 100 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.

(2) An offence against subsection (1) is a summary offence.

(3) Aggravated offence A person who, for the purpose of obtaining sexual arousal or sexual gratification, observes a person who is engaged in a private act:

(a) without the consent of the person being observed to being observed for that purpose, and

(b) knowing that the person being observed does not consent to being observed for that purpose, and

(c) in circumstances of aggravation,

is guilty of an offence. Maximum penalty: imprisonment for 5 years.

(4) In this section, “circumstances of aggravation” means circumstances in which:

(a) the person whom the offender observed was a child under the age of 16 years, or

(b) the offender constructed or adapted the fabric of any building for the purpose of facilitating the commission of the offence.

(5) Alternative verdict If on the trial of a person charged with an offence against subsection (3) the trier of fact is not satisfied that the offence is proven but is satisfied that the person has committed an offence against subsection (1), the trier of fact may acquit the person of the offence charged and find the person guilty of an offence against subsection (1). The person is liable to punishment accordingly.

(6) Attempts A person who attempts to commit an offence under subsection (1) or (3) is liable to the penalty provided for the commission of the offence.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

Being accused of spying on or watching another person whilst engaged in a private act can be damaging to your reputation, as well as embarrassing.

However, in these often difficult situations, the team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers can assist you in understanding the best course of action.

Our lawyers are experts in the field of criminal law and have successfully defended countless persons in these types of matters.

We strive to have matters resolved without resorting to a defended hearing by identifying problems with the prosecution case at an early stage and asking to have the charges dropped on this basis.

Many other law firms may encourage you to go to court even though it might result in a less desirable outcome – and cost more money.

Should your matter proceed to court, our highly-respected senior lawyers will work hard to protect your innocence.

We can assist you in identifying and raising any defences to the charges, which, if accepted, will result in the charges against you being dropped.

We will also work hard to dismantle the prosecution case by casting doubt on their evidence and witnesses, and by producing favourable evidence which supports your case.

Should you wish to plead guilty to the charges, our expert defence team will fight to ensure that you receive the most lenient penalty possible.

In many cases, we have been able to obtain ‘section 10s’ for our clients – where you are found guilty of the offence but no conviction is recorded on your criminal record.

We pride on our ability to obtain better results than any other law firm – even in the most difficult cases.

For the best advice and representation in your voyeurism matter, call us today on
(02) 9261 8881 and book your FREE first conference
with our expert lawyers.