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No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
The bill would amend the Penal Code to enhance the punishment for the offense of improper photography or visual recording if the victim was younger than 18 years of age from a state jail felony to a third degree felony. This analysis assumes the provisions of the bill would not result in a significant impact on state correctional agencies.
This legislation makes a number of changes; some definitional and some substantive. The general aim of this HB 3196 is to strengthen laws that protect people from being unknowingly photographed or video recorded while engaged in sexual activity or while their intimate body parts are exposed.
The most significant change this legislation would make would be to change the penalty for an offense of this nature from a state jail felony to a third degree felony if the victim was younger than 18 years of age at the time of the offense.
Earlier this session we supported SB 1317 which deals with this issue in a similar way but with some substantive differences. Most notably, the Senate bill did not include the penalty enhancement from state jail felony to third degree felony in cases where victims are under 18 years of age.
For perspective it is important to note that a state jail felony carries a term of confinement of 180 days to two years and a fine up to $10,000. A third degree felony carries a punishment of imprisonment for not less than two years and not more than ten years and a fine up to $10,000.
It is our view that increasing the penalty to a mandatory minimum of two years in prison represents a case of overcriminalization. The current penalty is already quite substantial. Ostensibly, under this legislation, one minor who surreptitiously records another minor could be convicted of a third degree felony offense.
We recommend opposing this legislation unless it is amended to strike the sentence enhancement provision.