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May
15
2015

House Tentatively Approves Criminalizing Voyeurism

State representative Jeff Leach, R-Plano, listens to colleagues during the final weekend of sessions for the 83rd Texas legislature at the State Capitol in Austin on Saturday, May 25, 2013. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

State representative Jeff Leach, R-Plano, listens to colleagues during the final weekend of sessions for the 83rd Texas legislature at the State Capitol in Austin on Saturday, May 25, 2013. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

The following article was written by Marissa Barnett and published by the Dallas Morning News on May 11, 2015.

AUSTIN—House lawmakers moved Monday to make voyeurism a separate crime and add stricter penalties in an effort to better identify potential, high-risk offenders.

Currently, voyeuristic behavior, such as spying on a person in assumed private situations, is classified as “disorderly conduct” and punishable by an up to $500 fine.

But supporters of relabeling such offenses as “voyeurism” and upping certain penalties say the change would improve law enforcement’s ability to quickly identify sexual predators. Voyeurism is considered by law enforcement as a “gateway” to other sexual offenses and potential offenders could be earlier detected with a separate charge, said Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, who sponsored the bill.

“As the law reads now, there’s no incentive for voyeur offenders” to stop because there’s minimal punishment, Leach said.

As proposed, a third conviction would land a “voyeur” up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. The legislation defines “voyeurism” as a person who observes another person in a situation deemed private with the “intent to arouse or gratify” sexual desire.

Leach proposed similar legislation last session but it stalled in the Senate. If the bill gets final approval Tuesday, it heads to the Senate.

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