Anaheim, CA asked in Criminal Law and Small Claims for California

Q: I found out that my roommate has a hidden camera.

I found out that my roommate has a hidden camera in her room, that points directly toward our bathroom door. We used to share a bedroom, but after some disputes between us, I moved into the living room, and she kept the master bedroom with an attached bath. Her and I still share the attached master bathroom, where I also shower, so I am in and out of there, sometimes only in a towel, and have also used the bathroom without closing the door when she wasn’t home. A friend of mine saw her post a screenshot of the camera view (which is how I was made aware) and on that I saw that she has the option to listen and record video and audio. I’m not sure if she got the camera before or after I moved out of that bedroom, and I never gave any consent to being recorded. I want to know if I am within my rights to seek legal action?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Patrick Griffin
Patrick Griffin
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • San Diego, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The possible criminal statutes that may apply to your situation are Penal Code 632 (eavesdropping) and Penal Code 647(j)(3) (unlawful videotaping with concealed camcorder). Pursuant to Penal Code 637.2, if you can prove a violation of these statutes you would prevail in a civil suit against your roommate.

The eavesdropping statute (PC 632) is actually more serious because it can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor (this is called a "wobbler"). The unlawful videotaping with a concealed camcorder statute (PC 647(j)(3)) is a misdemeanor charge and just like the eavesdropping statue it can be prosecuted criminally or be the basis for a civil suite.

The biggest obstacle you will face in pursuing a civil or criminal case against her is that the camera was in her bedroom. She will likely argue that she was merely recording her private space. The key evidence in the case would be what exactly these videos show and if you can get a copy of any of the videos and the recorded audio. If all you have is a screenshot it may be more difficult to prevail, especially on the eavesdropping charge. You would need to prove that she actually recorded you, not just that she had the option to record you.

Good luck.

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