*2024 Results: Approx. 99% of Mark Zinck's clients avoided a criminal record (conviction) for charges of theft, fraud, assault, mischief and threats.

Voyeurism Charges Lawyer: How to defend voyeurism charges in Ontario, Canada.

As of 2024, police in Ontario press charges for criminal voyeurism under CC s. 162 (1) for hidden cameras, screenshot captures, facetime recordings, and even the retention of nude selfies.

What is the definition of voyeurism in Canadian criminal law?

The scope of what constitutes criminal “voyeurism” in Ontario continues to expand with advances in technology. While the offence was first codified to prevent hidden cameras in locker rooms and upskirt photography, police forces across the province have expanded its interpretation to include webcam and facetime recordings, screenshot captures, selfie sexting pictures, snaps, and other forms of digital communications.

Voyeurism charges should always be defended by a criminal lawyer. The offence carries a potential sentence of up to 5 years in prison, a criminal record and lifelong U.S. travel and IRCC immigration bans. Voyeurism convictions often result in a jail sentence even for first time offenders.

The offence of voyeurism is codified in Section 162 (1) of the Criminal Code, which reads:


162 (1) Every one who

Every one commits an offence who, surreptitiously, observes — including by mechanical or electronic means — or makes a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, if

(a) the person is in a place in which a person can reasonably be expected to be nude, to expose his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or to be engaged in explicit sexual activity;

(b) the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity, and the observation or recording is done for the purpose of observing or recording a person in such a state or engaged in such an activity; or

(c) the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.

While the wording of the Criminal Code has remained the same, police forces in Ontario seem to be taking a very open minded approach to its interpretation.

In Ontario people are now being criminally charged with voyeurism for taking photos in public places, making copies of consensual sexting photos and video chats, facetime and webcam screen captures and recordings, snapchat and whatsapp messages, etc. In one case (R. v. Lebenfish, 2014 ONCJ 130), Toronto Police alleged that someone openly taking pictures of a nude woman in public at Hanlan’s beach was committing voyeurism. Voyeurism in a public place?

In that case, the court decided that the accused was not guilty. This decision is not binding on other courts so other defendants may not have the same experience at trial.

Voyeurism cases often have triable issues because it may not be clear that the behaviour actually constitutes the offence.

Police seem to press voyeurism charges where they feel someone has been wronged or victimized and leave the interpretation up to the courts. They just assume the recordings or viewings were made for a sexual purpose, often without bothering to investigate alternative explanations. Those charged with voyeurism should hire a lawyer immediately to start working on defending their case as the punishments and ancillary consequences of any finding of guilt are severe and lifelong.

Punishments and consequences of voyeurism charges in Canada

The punishment for voyeurism is codified in Section 162 (5) of the Criminal Code, which reads:


162 (5) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (4)

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Currently the courts have a lot of room to sentence those found guilty of voyeurism. While a discharge is an available disposition, often the Crown will seek a jail sentence even for a first time offender. Similar to most sexual offences, harsh punishments are often sought in these cases.

The Crown and courts consider it to be an aggravating factor that the alleged victim often must live with the fear of the photos/videos being posted online and available for public viewing for the rest of their lives. This possibility exists in virtually all cases, but ones where it is specifically threatened or has happened will be treated far more harshly and often attract a lengthy jail sentence upon conviction.

Many of these offenders will also have been charged with "Publication, etc., of an intimate image without consent" under Criminal Code Section 162.1 (1) in addition to Voyeurism.

Other consequences of voyeurism charges and convictions

In addition to going to jail and getting a criminal record, those convicted of voyeurism face lifelong consequences to their reputation, ability to work and volunteer with vulnerable people, and ability to travel to the USA and other countries in the future. Those convicted of voyeurism who are not Canadian Citizens may have their IRCC applications denied and be deported from Canada upon the completion of their sentence.

Since the offence is of a sexual nature the police will often publish the full name, age, location, and mugshot of the accused in a press release seeking information from additional victims. Such press reports are usually picked up by media outlets and reposted into stories that remain on the internet indefinitely causing incredible damage to the accused’s reputation and future opportunities.

Voyeurism charges for taking webcam screenshots, facetime or Zoom video recordings, and other forms of screen capturing

Sexting and other forms of electronic sexually charged conversations sometimes lead to facetime and webcam calls, snaps, text messages, or other electronic communications where nudity or sexual acts are performed on camera.

In these instances the person disrobing and exposing themselves is doing so intentionally for the person on the other side of the conversation to see. If one party makes screen captures or a video screen recording of the “performance” or exhibition of nudity, Ontario police will often charge the person with voyeurism for making the capture/recording if the alleged victim states the recording was done without their knowledge and consent (surreptitiously).

The logic is that this is similar to a hidden camera in the bedroom while having sex. The person is consenting to being seen in person, not to being in a video. Except that in webcam cases the person is aware they are on video but not aware it is being “preserved”. Is this voyeurism? In the case of R. v. Trinchi (2019 ONCA 356) the Ontario Court of Appeal the court upheld a voyeurism conviction by finding that the accused acted "surreptitiously". They found that he intended that the complainant remain unaware that he was taking still photos from the screen.

This effectively solidifies the law in Ontario that surreptitious webcam recordings can constitute voyeurism. The person is consenting to the viewing of them naked or participating in sexual acts in the moment, but not to it being permanently recorded.

Voyeurism charges after retention of images or videos someone agreed to delete before receiving them

Given that a screen capture without consent is enough for the police to charge for voyeurism, what about if it is a recording or picture sent with the understanding that the other person would delete it afterward? What if a picture is sent and then afterwards it is requested to be deleted. At what point do we draw the line of criminality?

In looking at the court of appeal decision in Trinchi, it appears that this could support a conviction because the complainant did not consent to him keeping a permanent recording. The decision states that she “expected to be observed by the appellant in the live-streamed video, but did not expect he would make a permanent recording of her naked”.

If the accused agrees up front to delete a nude picture and does not, the same reasoning would seemingly apply that such retention is “surreptitious”.

Disputing whether the accused agreed to delete nude images or videos in advance before receiving them

Since an accused in Ontario can be convicted of voyeurism based on a complainant’s possessing or keeping old nude photos and videos they agreed to delete before receiving, often the question of whether such an agreement was actually made in advance or not can be a key issue in some cases. It is often the word of the complainant (alleged victim) that is provided as the sole evidence that the picture was to be deleted.

This evidence of course may be disputed by the accused, particularly in cases where there are no texts, voice, or video recordings showing that such an agreement was made in advance. Some voyeurism cases are thus “he said / she said” matters where both parties have different accounts of what happened.

From the perspective of the police, they will lay the charges and let the courts decide whether all elements of the offence have been met or not. Courts can sometimes interpret the law differently and not all deciders of fact will always agree (hence dissent). This leaves the criminal law with respect to voyeurism somewhat of a wild west with new forms of charges being laid throughout Ontario.

The accused is often shocked to be charged with voyeurism particularly in cases where the alleged recordings were made within their own home (accused by their spouse, ex, children, step children, friends, etc.)

Many accused are shocked to learn they have been charged with voyeurism by the police because they had no idea they were committing a crime by creating or retaining media of their ex or whoever the complainant is. Such cases of “domestic voyeurism” are growing more popular in Ontario each day.

Key Issue: Was there knowledge of and consent to the making and retention of allegedly voyeuristic pictures or videos beforehand?

In some domestic voyeurism cases the primary issue is consent. Voyeurism charges are sometimes laid in cases involving serious relationship disputes. The parties may have recently broken up or in the middle of a matrimonial dispute arising from issues such as:
  1. Cheating,
  2. Violations of trust,
  3. Drug and/or alcohol problems,
  4. Lying or dishonest behaviour,
  5. Financial arrangements,
  6. Verbally abusive behaviour,
  7. Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV),
  8. Sexual assault or historical sex assault claims.
Like any other case, the credibility and reliability of the evidence (statements) provided by the alleged victim will be key to accessing the validity of the voyeurism charges in cases that hinge on consent.

There is a big difference between hiding a camera in the bathroom to try to capture images of someone naked, and a former scorned lover saying they did not consent to making a video, screenshot, etc. More and more cases in Ontario are of a contestable nature and involve assessing whether the complainant’s story of the events is accurate or not.

There are many reasons why a complainant may lie and say the media was recorded or retained without consent. Reasons for false charges can range from fear of public distribution of the images, to anger over cheating and looking for revenge, to seeking advantages in the family court system and beyond.

Questions of fact in “he said/she said” voyeurism cases

Since charges are being laid based on victim (witness) statements that they did not consent to the recording or picture that was produced of them, this means that often the case disposition will depend on whether the court finds the victim believable or not.

While some people make horrible liars, other people are quite good at it and know how to remain consistent and appear unscripted. Such "good witnesses" may appear credible and reliable when in fact they are not being completely truthful.

False voyeurism charges: Why innocent people sometimes get charged with voyeurism.

Why would a complainant (alleged victim) lie to the police about videos/pictures and claim they were the victim of voyeurism when they in fact consented to it?

There are many reasons an alleged victim could fabricate evidence in a voyeurism case. Motivations for false allegations can range from fear, to revenge, to 3rd party pressures.

Some of the most common reasons include:
  1. To gain an advantage in the family court system regarding custody/access to children, division of assets, and support;

  2. As punishment or retribution after catching them cheating or otherwise being unfaithful;

  3. As part of a plan to sue the defendant to damages in civil money (get money from them);

  4. As a response to regretting creating the videos/photos to begin with. The complainant may feel having them declared voyeurism will reduce their feelings of embarrassment or shame;

  5. The complainant may have a new spouse or partner that is angry/upset that the former partner possesses nude images of their current girlfriend, wife, etc. and want to alleviate this or place blame on the ex instead of admitting they agreed to it at the time;

  6. As a method of getting a court order that can be used to ask internet service providers, web hosts, websites, etc. to remove them from the internet.
Some voyeurism cases also involve charges for Publishing an Intimate Image Without Consent under Section 162.1 (1) of the Criminal Code. In those that do not, the motivation for reporting voyeurism to the police may be to try and prevent the images from being published or spread online. The complainant may be desperate to stop it (whether their fears are justified or not) and go to the police with a story of voyeurism when in reality they consented to it and no publishing and/or distribution has actually taken place.

The police will then ask questions and probe once they receive the voyeurism complaint. In some cases, a complainant may lie to the police or tell them what they think they want to hear. They may also omit exculpatory parts of the story such as that they originally agreed to it, or that they only asked the accused to delete them afterward.

Once the charges are laid the accused's life changes forever.

Whether motivated by the fear of image distribution, revenge, or trying to gain an advantage in family court, false voyeurism allegations are devastating for the accused. Most cases take many months to years to resolve while the accused’s freedom and livelihood is placed on the line. Even if they are eventually found innocent, the damage to their reputation, personal, and professional life is often irreversible.

While the identity of the complainant is usually protected via a publication ban under CC s. 486.5 (1) even if they fabricate their story, the accused's name and association with being charged remains public information. As a result, the accused is left labeled a “pervert” in the eyes of some (unenlightened) people even if they are later found not guilty or the charges get dropped. The media rarely report when the charges are withdrawn pretrial in Ontario.

Instead of being sympathized with for being falsely accused, their life is often ruined. Everything they worked to build both professionally and personally can be destroyed or irreversibly damaged because they are now known as the person who was charged by the police with voyeurism. Some people just don't see them the same way anymore.

If anything they should be respected for maintaining their innocence (trials are risky) and providing inspiration for other people falsely accused of voyeurism.

The names and pictures of those charged with voyeurism are often released by the police and reported in the media.

It is not uncommon for the police to release the name, age, location, and mugshot picture of those charged with voyeurism. Often such press reports are made under the justification of “looking for more victims to come forward”. In reality, the accused is branded by most of society as a “pervert” or worse just for being accused of the crime. For an innocent person, the losses are devastating and irreversible.

Just being charged with voyeurism can cause a person to be completely ostracized by society. When the police release their name, it can show up in search queries stating they are charged with voyeurism for the rest of their life. This can cause people to lose their jobs or future employment opportunities, be rejected socially (dating and platonic friendships), not be trusted to do business with, etc. Sometimes it leads to divorce and grounds to restrict custody and access to the children in the family court system.

While the laying of the charges are publicly reported, gossiped about, and preserved indefinitely via internet searches for the person’s name, rarely is it reported later on if the charges are dropped or if the accused was acquitted. They have to live with the stigma of the charges for the rest of their lives. There is no “right to be forgotten” law in Canada like there is in much of Europe. Canada’s laws regarding freedom of speech, the press, and public information usually offer little to no relief for innocent people charged with voyeurism.

Defending voyeurism charges: Sometimes the police need the defendant to talk and admit to things before they can charge them under s. 162 (1).

The police may need their suspect to talk and admit to installing or using a hidden camera. They may not have direct proof of their identity or a 3rd party witness to say that they “saw them do it”. In these cases, the police will try to convince the suspect, in one way or another, to admit or confess to their actions.

Police may lie to the suspect about evidence they do not have to secure the admission. The accused is essentially told that it is in their best interest to tell their side of the story because they already know what happened anyway. In reality, the police are hoping the accused puts themselves at the scene or admits to parts of the allegation they cannot otherwise prove. Once the confession or incriminating statements are made the accused is arrested and charged.

Not all voyeurism cases are of the newish “he said / she said” nature. Some involve the installation and use of hidden cameras in bathrooms, toilets, walls, electronics, and other places in both homes and businesses. While the police may have a very logical suspect in mind, they still may need them to make admissions because theoretically someone else could be responsible.

Sometimes the Crown must prove the observing or recording was done for a “sexual purpose” in order for it to be legally considered voyeurism.

In some cases the intent required to be convicted of voyeurism requires the behaviour to be done for a “sexual purpose” (absent s. 162 (1)(a) or (b)). Sometimes an alternative explanation can be provided that exonerates the accused’s behaviour.

In cases where the accused admits to making the recordings or viewing the complainant, their defence may rely on the fact that they were not doing so for a sexual purpose. The police often just assume that the purpose is sexual and may not have considered alternative explanations. In these cases the charges will be laid and it will be up to the court to decide the purpose of the viewing or recordings.

Non-sexual reasons can include:
  1. They were trying to protect themselves from a false allegation by capturing the behaviour of the third party;

  2. For security, monitoring, and protection and preservation of property;

  3. To document or catch other forms of behaviour they suspect are happening that shouldn’t be (cheating, associations with other 3rd parties);

  4. Recorded by accident, as a result of a test, or something else unintentional;

  5. For artistic, sentimental, or other non-sexual personal reasons.
In some cases the real reason and motivation behind the pictures of videos was completely non-sexual. The Crown must prove intent in these cases. If the accused exercises their right to remain silent, the Crown may have little other evidence to rebut the accused’s alternative explanation in court.

Remain silent if you are confronted by the police or a third party (complainant or other witness) about voyeurism.

Remember, anything that you say other than to your own lawyer can and will be used against you in court by the Crown. Sometimes the accused will make incriminating statements while trying to talk themselves out of being charged by the police like: “I tried to record my wife, not her kid”.

If you think you may be charged with voyeurism or have already been charged (given a Form 10 Undertaking or Form 11 Release Order) you should immediately consult with a lawyer to defend the charges and speak on your behalf. You do not want to do anything to incriminate yourself. Defendants make what they think are innocuous statements all the time that come back to hurt them later.

If you or someone you know needs help give us a call now at 647-228-5969 for a free no obligation case assessment.

   Call us today.

You don't have to jeopardize your future or waste thousands of dollars on excessive legal fees. We provide effective and affordable lawyer representation for those charged with criminal voyeurism offences throughout Ontario, Canada.

Have a skilled criminal lawyer who focuses on criminal law protect you and your future from the stigma and consequences of a criminal record and conviction.

    call now: 647-228-5969


Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Ontario. For more information about our lawyer, click here.

We provide our clients with:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration/IRCC issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Clear goals of getting charges dropped and bail conditions varied without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Experienced, focused counsel

* Please note:

If you are not a paying client, we cannot answer questions and provide assistance about avoiding jail and/or a criminal record, employment background checks, IRCC/immigration applications and status, or travel to the U.S. in the future. This includes those who have already retained other counsel and those whose cases have already been completed.

We only can respond to calls and emails relating to current Ontario criminal cases. Please see our FAQ for a listing of the courthouses we service.

Are you a lawyer? If you are defending a criminal case and are looking for expert advice regarding possible defences, case strategies, and information release management call us at: 647-228-5969.

Please note: We do not accept legal aid certificate cases. All clients are handled on a private retainer only.

*2024 Results: the percentage of 99% of clients avoiding a criminal record (conviction) stated on this page is based solely on Lawyer Mark Zinck's personal representation of approximately 2000 criminal defence case clients as of the year 2024. Past results are not necessarily an indication of future results.


Your questions and concerns are extremely important to me.


Error: please enable JavaScript and reload this page before using the form.

   Criminal Information:

   We provide:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration/IRCC issues
  • Employment background check advice and services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • A clear goal of getting the charges dropped without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Timely resolutions
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel