What does an Article 120 charge of “indecent viewing” really mean?

The new Article 120c has an offense called “indecent viewing.”  This is an offense that may need some explanation.  Indecent viewing is when someone knowingly and wrongfully views the private area of a person.  In order to qualify as an indecent viewing, however, it must be without consent and it must have occurred under circumstances in which the alleged victim would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  For example, if you are at a bar on a Saturday night and a girl jumps on top of the bar and begins to strip, this would not qualify as an indecent viewing.  In that case, there is both consent and no reasonable expectation on her part of remaining private.  That one is obvious.  However, imagine that your dog runs away and you chase him into the backyard of a house that backs up to woods.  Just at that moment, you look over at that house and a woman is undressing in front of the kitchen window.  The blinds are pulled up so you have a full view.  You mean to turn away immediately, but you linger there a little longer than you should.  You know that she does not see you and probably didn’t expect you to be there.  At the same time, you did not expect or intend to be there either.  She spots you looking.  You could now be looking at an indecent viewing charge.  However, this is not a clear cut charge.  She did not consent, however, did she really have a reasonable expectation of privacy undressing in front of a kitchen window in which the blinds were pulled up?  Does it matter that the window backs up to woods and she would not expect to see a person there in her backyard?  What about the fact that you were chasing your dog and stumbled upon this viewing unintentionally?  Does the fact that you did not turn away immediately  turn an innocent viewing into an indecent one?  These are all tough questions.  It is not clear what types of offenses will fit under this new charge of indecent viewing.  If you are charged under the new Article 120, you should not have just anyone represent you.  The new Article 120 sexual offenses are complicated and some go into unchartered waters.  The political environment is tough on any sexual offenses in the military right now.  So if you are charged with one you need someone with experience who can work through issues like this and advocate for your innocence.  I have vast experience with Article 120.  Please call me for help.  To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.

William E. Cassara- Military Law Attorney

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