Loitering is defined as hanging around or lingering in a public place. While lingering refers to staying in one place with no purpose for being there. In California, loitering is also included in peeping tom laws.

How is Peeping Tom Law Defined in California?

It’s unlawful for anyone to prowl, loiter, or wander onto another individual’s property and peek inside an inhabited building. This includes peeking in a window or door. In California, this is commonly known as "peeking while loitering."

Can I Be Accused of Invasion of Privacy Too?

Yes. It’s considered a separate crime. An individual can be charged with invasion of privacy when looking through an opening or hole intended to invade another individual’s privacy by using a device. A device is like a telescope or binoculars. A place of privacy is any place where there’s an expectation of privacy.

What is the Punishment for a Peeping Tom Conviction?

Both invasion of privacy and loitering and peeking are misdemeanor crimes. A conviction of either crime can result in up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

If you are convicted a second time or the victim was a minor, it can result in a punishment of up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

Will I Have to Register as a Sex Offender? 

No. However, California gives the court discretion regarding having a defendant register as a sex offender. Typically, mandatory registry as a sex offender occurs if there was some crime committed because of sexual compulsion.

Can I Be Charged with Any Other Crimes Connected to Peeping Tom Laws?

Yes. Depending on the facts of the case, a defendant can be charged with one or more of these crimes too: 

What are the Common Defenses Associated with Peeping Tom Laws?

Some common defenses include: 

  • It occurred on public property
  • No intent to loiter
  • The structure the defendant was peeking into wasn’t inhabited
  • No intent to peek
  • The defendant was lawfully on the person’s property
  • The alleged victim had no reasonable expectation of privacy

Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Peeping Tom Charge?

Yes, it’s in your best interest to contact a criminal lawyer regarding fighting the charge.