TRENTON � A bill sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) that would upgrade the criminal penalties for the crime of invasion of privacy and eliminate the presumption of non-imprisonment was cleared out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today. The legislation was drafted in response to the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi after his roommate promoted and then streamed online video images of him allegedly engaged in a sexual encounter.
�The invasion of someone�s privacy is more than just a joke or harmless fun. As we saw at Rutgers it has serious consequences and can cause irreparable harm to those who fall victim of it. Individuals who invade someone�s privacy need to be held accountable,� said Turner.
Currently, under the invasion of privacy statute, a person commits a crime of the fourth degree if he or she observes another person without that person�s consent under circumstances in which a reasonable person would know that another may expose intimate parts or may engage in sexual contact. This bill would upgrade the crime from a fourth degree offense to a third degree offense and eliminate the presumption of non-imprisonment.
A crime of the third degree is punishable by a term of incarceration of three to five years and a fine of up to $15,000. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by a term of incarceration of up to 18 months and a fine of up to $10,000. Most third and fourth degree crimes carry a presumption of non-imprisonment for first time offenders.
The invasion of privacy statute also provides that it is a crime of the third degree to record or otherwise reproduce an image of a person�s intimate parts or a person engaged in sexual contact. It is also a crime of the third degree to disclose any reproduction of that image to another person. This bill would increase the penalty for both crimes to a crime of the second degree.
A crime of the second degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 10 years and a fine of up to $150,000.
The legislation now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.