Protecting Your Rights Throughout Eastern Iowa Since 1981

Is secretly taking a video of your neighbor a crime?

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Vlogging has become incredibly popular in recent years thanks to video hosting platforms like YouTube and TikTok. Whether it’s about travel, food or fashion, vlogs can be about almost anything, and there will always be an audience for one topic or another.

But some vlogs can be too intrusive. Some content creators take recordings of other people in embarrassing situations, looking to make funny or obscene videos out of them.

You might think taking a compromising video of your neighbor as a joke is a fun idea. But you also might want to reconsider if you’re thinking of sneaking up to your neighbor’s window or fence to record them in their private moments. This is a crime in Iowa; you could face fines and prison time if convicted.

Taking secret videos is trespassing

Per Iowa law, intentionally filming or photographing another person through a window or any similar opening of their dwelling without a legitimate purpose or the person’s consent is trespassing.

The crime of trespassing is a simple misdemeanor. If you’re convicted, you’ll be asked to pay a fine of as much as $855 and serve up to 30 days in jail. In addition, an officer who arrives at the scene can arrest you if you refuse to leave or decide to return to the property again.

However, the trespassing offense becomes a serious misdemeanor if your stunt injures any person or property damage worth more than $300. On conviction for a serious misdemeanor, you’ll have to pay as much as $2,560 in fines and serve up to a whole year in prison. This might happen in cases where a neighbor attempts to chase after a video taker and trips, suffering injuries.

Vlogging has boundaries

In short, trying to take a compromising video of your neighbor is a crime. If caught, you’ll face severe consequences – especially if your antics cause injuries or damage. Also, understand that if your neighbor called the police on you and you have recorded footage at the time of the incident, officials can use the material against you in court.