The crime of voyeurism criminalizes spying or surveilling to gratify sexual desire. It is often called the “Peeping Tom crime,” and the voyeurism statute is sometimes called the “Peeping Tom law.”

There are many ways to commit voyeurism. The classic way is to peek in a bedroom window.  Another common way is to hide a camera in a private place, such as a bathroom or locker room.  As cameras have become smaller and more sophisticated, voyeurism cases have increased.

Defending against Voyeurism Allegations

As detailed below, the voyeurism statute has several particular requirements. At the Marshall Defense Firm, we start by rigorously examining the evidence concerning each of them. If even one of the critical requirements can be defeated, the charge fails.

We also look at whether the evidence against the accused can be excluded from trial. Under the exclusionary rule, evidence that has been seized in violation of the rights of the accused often must be excluded from trial. See below for more on illegal seizures in voyeurism cases.

Washington Law on Voyeurism

In Washington State a person can commit voyeurism in either of two ways:

  • A person knowingly views, photographs, or films another person;
    • without that person’s consent and in a place where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy;
    • with the purpose of arousing or gratifying a sexual desire.


  • A person knowingly views, photographs, or films the intimate areas of another person;
    • without that person’s knowledge and under circumstances where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, whether in public or in private;
    • with the purpose of arousing or gratifying a sexual desire.

The voyeurism statute contains special definitions of many of its terms.


A popular modern way to commit voyeurism is “upskirt” photography. A strategically-placed hidden camera is aimed up the skirt of an unsuspecting woman.

Laws in many states do not make upskirting illegal. Washington, however, has deliberately written the voyeurism statute to criminalize upskirting.

Consequences of a Voyeurism Conviction

Voyeurism is a Class C felony. A person convicted of voyeurism can be sentenced to as much as five years in prison (actual sentences depend heavily on the number of counts and whether the offender has any prior felony convictions.)

Since voyeurism is designated a sex offense under Washington law, any voyeurism offender who is placed on community custody (akin to probation or parole) should expect to have his freedom of movement restricted quite a bit. The offender may also be prohibited from living in parts of town that contain schools, parks, and playgrounds.

A conviction for voyeurism also requires the person to register as a sex offender for ten years.

Voyeurism Defense

Every voyeurism case has its own particular circumstances and evidence. At the Marshall Defense Firm, we analyze each case to determine how to proceed with the defense.

Sometimes there is a weakness in the evidence that the accused “knowingly” viewed, photographed, or filmed another person. Inadvertent viewing or accidental filming does not qualify as voyeurism.

Illegally Seized Evidence

Often voyeurism charges arise when recordings are discovered on someone’s smartphone or computer. In those cases, the defense attorney must thoroughly investigate when the images were placed on the device, where they were stored, and, most important, how they were put on the device. The attorney needs to be familiar with computer forensic tools, proper investigation procedures, and legal limits on law enforcement searches and seizures. At the Marshall Defense Firm, we work with savvy computer forensic experts to see whether the State’s evidence really proves all the things the prosecutor says it proves.

The defense attorney needs to mount a strong defense to rebut the State’s evidence and also to attack the manner in which they obtained that evidence.

What it’s Like to Have The Marshall Defense Firm in Your Corner

Respect and compassion are the foundation of our work. We take time to get to know you and your case. It’s where our fierce advocacy for you begins.

Then there’s our experience. For decades we have defended special-assault cases like voyeurism. From that and our on-going study of the law, medicine, and psychology involved in these cases, we have exceptional skill.

And we pool that skill. We work as a team. We know that no one lawyer, no matter how brilliant, will have all the good ideas for your case.

Our final ingredient is relentless investigation and preparation. When we step into court to defend you, we are ready to do it well.

If you or a loved one needs services like ours, contact us at 206.202.1633 or solutions@marshalldefense.com for an appointment.

Confer with us in good health! You may choose to confer with us by Zoom or telephone to avoid Covid risk. Please phone us at 206.826.1400 to schedule your conference.