A Denver man was recently charged with 42 counts of sexual assault and invasion of privacy for taking pictures of female coworkers’ intimate areas without their consent, and he’s being held on a $500,000 bond in a Denver jail.
He has decided to plead not guilty to all charges. However, authorities have found the images on his computer, and he has admitted that he has a problem. What defenses does he have in this situation? Read on to learn more.
What Is “Upskirting”?
Before we dive into possible defenses, it is important to first understand exactly what the man is being charged with and what happened in this situation.
Thanh Ta worked at the Colorado Department of Education as a budget analyst. He allegedly took numerous pictures on his iPhone of several coworkers while at work, as well as even more photos in public places.
One coworker, who once called Ta her good friend, said that he took hundreds of photos of her by secretly aiming his phone camera so he could take photos under her skirt or down her shirt. She said he snapped some photos of her while she walked in a stairwell, where she thought she was safe.
Ta’s wife, who met him through work nine years ago, has initiated divorce proceedings. She was stunned by the arrest and investigation and had no idea her husband was taking the photos and storing them on the hard drives of his home computers. She said Ta was known as a caring, loving person by many.
Prosecutors say he has images of around 60 women, saved by name. Ta admitted to investigators that he began taking photos in 2011 when the women were walking up and down stairs at work. He took all the photos without the women’s knowledge. The investigative records state that Ta knows he has an abnormal problem. He will face his first hearing on Jan. 26.
What the Laws Say about This Behavior
The Colorado statutes on criminal invasion of privacy state prohibit an individual from taking photos of someone else’s intimate parts without consent when the person being photographed can reasonably expect privacy. A conviction is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable with three to 12 months in jail and/or a fine between $250 and $1,000.
The laws on sexual assault include offenses of sexual intrusion without consent. Penalties for this type of sexual assault conviction ranges from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony. The sentencing is six months to two years in prison and a fine of $500 to $5,000 for a Class 1 misdemeanor. For a Class 4 felony, the sentencing is four to 12 years in prison, a fine between $2,000 and $500,000, and three years mandatory parole.
An Unusual Defense Strategy
None of the usual defenses will work for these charges. One common example is an expiration of the statute of limitations, which is five years for misdemeanors and 10 years for felonies. Since Ta has been taking photos continuously since 2011, many of the offenses will fall within the statute of limitations.
Sometimes a defendant can fight sexual assault charges by saying that they believed the victim gave consent. In this case, Ta has already admitted to secretly taking photos up women’s skirts without their knowledge, so this defense won’t fly at all.
To get the charges and penalties reduced, Ta’s attorney will likely need to form a coalition of positive character witnesses. The attorney will also need to posit that Ta has a sexual addiction or psychological problem that caused him to behave in this way. This is similar to an insanity defense, which comes with its own requirements for eligibility. If he can be shown to suffer from a mental disease, he has a good chance of escaping some of the legal consequences.
Start Fighting Your Charges by Getting a Free Case Review
If you are facing charges of sexual assault or criminal invasion of privacy in the state of Colorado, it’s important to contact an experienced sex crimes attorney as soon as your charges are filed. A better outcome for you is more likely if your attorney has more time to develop a solid defense strategy.
In certain situations, a skilled lawyer may be able to get your charges reduced or even dropped. However, it all depends on the particular details of your unique case. You need an attorney with proven success and experience to fight on your behalf. Contact us today for your free, no obligation case review. We’ll get to work on preserving your freedom and your reputation.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.