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Is It Against the Law to Look in Other People's Windows?

Is It Against the Law to Look in Other People's Windows?

When someone's in their own home, they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Meaning, whether they're in their kitchen, bedroom, or living room, they likely feel that they are free from unwanted surveillance from others. If an individual looks through the windows of another person's home and watches them engaging in any type of conduct, that individual is breaching the expectation of privacy.

In Kansas, looking through someone else's windows is unlawful, and a person can be criminally charged for carrying out such an activity. Not only do they face charges for observing others in their home, but they can also face them for unlawfully being on the property.

A Peeping Tom

When someone watches others in their homes by looking through their windows, the watcher is what is referred to as a Peeping Tom. Kansas does not have a law specifically prohibiting Peeping Toms, but it does have one that forbids the conduct such a person engages in. This is Kansas's breach of privacy law. (K.S.A. § 21-6101)

Under the breach of privacy statute, it's unlawful to:

  • Knowingly and without lawful authority,
  • Observe the personal conduct of another,
  • When that person expects to have privacy in the place they're in

Although some people might think that this law only applies when a person observes another in a state of undress or while they are engaged in a sex act, that's not necessarily so. The law provides that a person commits a crime when they watch the "personal conduct" of someone else, and it is not specific to intimate acts.

When a person looks through another's windows, they can be charged with a class A nonperson misdemeanor. A conviction carries a jail term of up to 1 year.

The statute isn't only concerned with Peeping Toms. It prohibits other behaviors, such as listening to private conversations or recording people under their clothing. Basically, the law bans anyone from doing anything against a person without their knowledge or consent and when privacy is expected.

A Criminal Trespasser

The other crime a Peeping Tom can be charged with is criminal trespass under K.S.A 21-5808. This offense occurs when someone enters or remains in a place where they have no privilege to be. Privilege is revoked when the owner of the property (or someone authorized to act on the owner's behalf) asks the other person to leave the premises or not to enter them initially.

If an individual is standing on someone else's property, looking in the window, they don't have the right to be there. Thus, they may be charged with criminal trespass.

Criminal trespass is a class B nonperson misdemeanor. It carries a conviction penalty of up to 6 months in jail. Additionally, the person found guilty of this offense is required to spend a minimum of 48 consecutive hours behind bars.

At Stein Law, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys have over 25 years of combined experience and know how to fight for results. If you're facing charges in Kansas City, call us at (913) 583-0465 or contact us online today.

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