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Peeping Tom
Laws, Penalties, & Defenses

PC 647(i) and 647(j)(1) Crimes

Information on the crime of Peeping Tom is found at California penal code section 647(i) and 647(j).


In short, a Peeping Tom is person who peeks into private areas, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, changing rooms, etc., with the naked eye or with the augmented eye (binoculars, periscope, etc.), for the purpose of invading the privacy of the person spied upon, and without consent or other legal justification.

For example: Setting up a secret camera in a bathroom or dressing room is a crime even if the person who set up the camera never filmed, recorded, or otherwise photographed a person using the bathroom or dressing room.

PC 647(i) It is a crime to loiter, prowl, or wander upon the private property of another, and at any time, peek in the door or window of any inhabited building or structure, without visible or lawful business with the owner or occupant (PC 647(i) Abbrev.).

Note: loiter means to delay or linger without a lawful purpose for being on the property and for the purpose of committing a crime as opportunity may be discovered.

PC 647(j)(1): It is a crime to look through a hole or opening, into, or otherwise view, by means of any instrument, including, but not limited to, a periscope, telescope, binoculars, camera, motion picture camera, camcorder, mobile phone, electronic device, or unmanned aircraft system, the interior of a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room, or tanning booth, or the interior of any other area in which the occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade the privacy of a person or persons inside (PC 647(j)(1) Summarized).

Note: It is also illegal to use a concealed recorder to secretly film another person under or through their clothes for the purpose of arousing the sexual desires of the defendant, when the victim has a reasonable expectation of privacy (PC 647(j)(2) (Abbrev.)).

Exceptions: PC 647(j) does not apply to private business that use security cameras that capture persons counting money or other instruments.

PC 647(j)(3)(A): It is a crime to secretly record or photograph another person... who may be in a state of full or partial undress, for the purpose of viewing the body or undergarments worn by that other person, without the consent or knowledge of that other person, in the interior of a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room, or tanning booth, or the interior of any area in which that other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade the privacy of that other person (PC 647(j)(3)(A) Abbrev.).


Peeping Tome crimes are generally charged as misdemeanors. If the victim is a minor the defendant could face more serious fines and is more likely to be ordered to register as a sex offender under a rarely used statute where the defendant could be ordered to register as a sex offender for any crime that is committed to satisfy the defendant's sexual gratification or urges (PC 290.006).


Jail Sentence: If found guilty of PC 647(i) or 647(j) the defendant could face up to 180 days in jail.

Second Offense: Every person who commits a second of subsequent violation of PC 647(i) or 647(j),...shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment... (Abbreviated).


Probation: A probation sentence is a period of supervision as opposed to an actual jail sentence. Probation sentence are allowed in Peeping Tom cases, but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not the court will allow a probation sentence after a conviction for PC 647(i) or 647(j) depends largely on the circumstances of the case and the defendant's criminal history, if any.

Counseling Classes: In any case in which a person is convicted of violating PC 647(i) or PC 647(j),... the court may require counseling as a condition of probation. Any defendant so ordered to be placed in a counseling program shall be responsible for paying the expense of his or her participation in the counseling program as determined by the court. The court shall take into consideration the ability of the defendant to pay, and no defendant shall be denied probation because of his or her inability to pay. (PC 647.7 Abbreviated)


CIMT: Neither PC 647(i), nor PC 647(j) is considered a crime involving moral turpitude.

Bail: The scheduled bail amount for Peeping Tom crimes is $5,000 in San Bernardino County (2020). This amount may be lowered or raised depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant's criminal history (other factors may apply).


Common defenses to Pepin Tom crimes include: consent, mistake of fact, statue of limitations, intoxication insanity, and more. Perhaps the most common defense used in Peeping Tom cases is to simply rely on the insufficiency of the evidence to prove the identity of the person who set up the hidden recorder or camera in an area where privacy is reasonably expected (i.e. bathroom, dressing room, etc.).

Note: It is not a defense to a PC 647(i) or 647(j) crimes to show that the victim was related to the defendant, or that the defendant and the victim were roommates, coworkers, in a dating relationship, or live together.

If you have been arrested or charged with PC 647(i) or PC 647(j), "Peeping Tom" crimes, contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers have handled hundreds of sex crimes and we are available to discuss your case every day of the week. Call today!



Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Peeping Tom (Peeping while Loitering)

Code: PC 647(i)

Wobbler: No. PC 647(i) is not a wobbler. PC 647(i) is only charged as a misdemeanor.​


Incarceration: ​PC 647(i) jail sentence up to 180 days.

Probation: Probation sentence is available in PC 647(i) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

Registration: PC 647(i) is not a sex crime registration offense.

Strike: PC 647(i) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 647(i) is likely not a crime involving moral turpitude (no court ruling on this crime yet).


Bail: $5,000 (San Bernardino County)

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