With a camera in nearly every cell phone, it is easier than ever to snap a quick photo wherever you might be. With the prevalence of cameras and social media, it can be easy to forget that taking pictures in certain places might be inappropriate. While taking pictures in public is not heavily restricted, there may be issues of consent in more private settings, like at work.
Depending on the circumstances, it might be illegal to take pictures without consent while you are at work in Utah. Criminal charges depend on the workplace setting and the circumstances under which the pictures were taken. For example, you could be criminally charged for taking pictures of sensitive or private information.
If you snapped some pictures at work and are now facing criminal charges, you might feel a bit blindsided. However, privacy violations are serious matters, and our Utah criminal defense attorneys can help you. Call Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287 for a free initial case review today.
When Is Taking Pictures at Work Without Consent a Crime in Utah?
This question is difficult to answer and changes depending on your circumstances. Taking photos is not a big deal in some workplaces and is unlikely to land you in legal trouble. Other workplaces, however, might have different rules. Criminal penalties also depend on the subject of your photos. Snapping a quick picture of yourself in the office to post on social media is probably not an issue. However, snapping a picture of a coworker or recording sensitive work information is a different story.
Taking pictures of sensitive or private information at work can be tricky. Sometimes, even routine paperwork contains extremely private information or information critical to the business’s success. By simply taking photos at work, you could be exposing sensitive information to be used by business competitors or in violation of rules like HIPAA. You could run afoul of civil laws, be charged with various white-collar crimes, or both.
Taking pictures of people at your place of work is similarly complex. Taking goofy pictures with coworkers in the break room is likely not a crime. However, secretly recording meetings where private business matters are discussed could get you in trouble. Illegally recording coworkers, customers, or clients to harass or intimidate them may lead to several criminal charges discussed below. And, of course, taking pictures of people in private areas like restrooms or changing rooms could be illegal. If you are in trouble for taking pictures at work without consent, call our Layton criminal defense attorneys for help.
Criminal Charges for Taking Photos of Sensitive Work Information Without Permission in Utah
According to Utah’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act, exposing trade secrets is not a criminal offense but may be met with serious civil penalties. Trade secrets are pieces of information that are economically valuable because they are kept secret. A key element of a trade secret is that reasonable measures are actively taken to ensure secrecy. Information left out in the open with no protection is not a trade secret, even if nobody else knows about it.
If you work in a bakery, baking cookies according to the owner’s secret family recipe, taking pictures of the recipe or ingredients without permission could expose key secrets. You might not be criminally charged in such a case, but you could be liable for damages in civil court.
Depending on your job, you might have access to private information. You could be charged with a theft offense if you stole trade secrets to use for your own profit. It is almost too easy to take high-quality photos of important documents at work in today’s world. A person could easily walk away with hundreds of documents and a plethora of business secrets on their phone.
Under Utah Code § 76-6-404, theft involves obtaining control over someone else’s property to deprive that person of the property. Stealing things like formulas, recipes, or other private information from work could be charged as theft.
If you used deceptive means to access the information before taking pictures, you could be charged with theft by deception under Utah Code § 76-6-405.
If you stole information from work by taking pictures and tried to use that information as blackmail or perhaps held it for ransom, you could be charged with extortion under Utah Code § 76-6-406.
The degree of theft charges usually depends on the value of what was stolen. Stealing highly valuable trade secrets could lead to felony charges. Stealing somewhat less valuable information might instead lead to misdemeanor charges. You should call our Ogden criminal defense lawyers for help in either case.
Criminal Charges for Taking Photos of People Without Consent at Work in Utah
Taking pictures without someone’s permission at work is not just a social faux pas; in some circumstances, it could be a criminal offense. Call our Utah criminal defense lawyers immediately if you face criminal charges for taking photographs of people without permission.
Voyeurism may be charged under Utah Code § 76-9-702.7. This offense applies to defendants who allegedly used some form of technology to record another person secretly. The recording is often made so that the defendant can see private parts of the other person’s body without their knowledge or consent in situations where the alleged victims should have reasonably expected privacy. If the alleged victim had a reasonable expectation of privacy in certain places at work, setting up a camera there could be a criminal offense. This would cover things like peeping in the bathroom or locker room with a planted camera.
You could also be charged with the crime of privacy violation under Utah Code § 76-9-402. There are multiple ways this crime can be completed. First, you could trespass on someone’s property with the intent to eavesdrop or record surveillance or take photos. Second, you could install a recording device, like a camera, without permission in a private place. Third, you could take photos of what’s going on inside a private place from outside that private place.
Stalking may be charged under Utah Code § 76-5-106.5, but this crime does have a few more elements than merely taking photos without consent. Stalking involves a course of conduct intended to cause distress or fear. A significant part of stalking is following, monitoring, or observing another persons’ movements. Defendants charged with stalking are often alleged to have taken photos or videos of the victim, potentially in their workplace.
Call Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help
Depending on the variables and factors of your case, taking pictures without permission at work could lead to criminal charges or even civil liability. However, your crime may have only been an unintentional mistake. Call our Park City criminal defense lawyers about your charges today. Call Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287 for a free case review.