November 27, 2007

Court sends mixed message to perverts

To time-stamp or not to time-stamp one's surreptitious photography.
Townsend, who didn't time-stamp his surreptitious photography, managed to elude three felony charges for videotaping three different women naked and without their permission, in a place where they had a reasonable expectation of privacy (Walworth County).

Townsend was charged under an amended Wisconsin statute that became effective on December 18, 2001, but since investigators were unable to determine exactly when the tapes were made, the criminal complaint recited time frames that straddled that date, e.g., “between November 1 and December 31, 2001.”

In fact there was a substantially identical statute in effect prior to 12/18/01, but it was moved by the amendment from the 'Crimes Against Morality' chapter to the 'Crimes Against Reputation, Privacy and Civil Liberties' chapter, and renumbered.

Not a problem, argued the State, we'll leave it up to the jury to decide when the recordings were made and that will determine whether it was a crime against morality or a crime against reputation because, after all, the statute — and, therefore, the crime — was the same; it was simply moved and renumbered. No biggie.

Nope, sorry about your luck, said the District II Court of Appeals, you forgot to cite the pre-12/18/01 statute number in the criminal complaint, and your proposed course of action would violate Mr. Townsend's constitutional right to be informed of the exact charges he faces in order to prepare an effective defense. Townsend dodges three felony bullets.

Townsend also challenged the four misdemeanors he was charged with, which involved knowingly “installing” a surveillance device with the intent to observe nude or partially nude persons without said nude or partially nude persons' consent.

Townsend claimed “install,” which isn't specifically defined by statute, means “permanently affix.” Yes, it may mean “affix,” said the Court of Appeals, after consultation with the New Oxford American Dictionary, but it may also simply mean “place,” and, furthermore, it would be absurd to interpret the statute to exclude hand held cellphones, which are the instruments by which a lot of your perversion is getting facilitated these days.

So, Wisconsin perverts, you're advised to consult your pre-12/18/01 surreptitious photography and adjust yourselves accordingly.

State v. Townsend (.pdf; 9 pgs.).

No comments: