Upskirting Charges, Penalties & Defense

Law gavel depicting upskirting charges

Upskirting is just what it sounds like. According to Michigan law, looking at, taking a photograph of an unclothed person who should have a reasonable expectation of privacy is a crime.

Gone are the days when boys putting mirrors on their shoes to see up girls’ skirts was considered a harmless prank.

It is a felony. You could end up being in jail for two years for doing it. The possible penalties are worse if you take or distribute an image of it.

One 32-year-old doctor in Grand Rapids is feeling the weight of this law after being hit with two criminal charges for the same act.

Anas Mustafa Rajeh Ahmad was trying to photograph underneath the skirts of young women. He would bump into them and then pretend to tie his shoe.

One woman caught him and followed him out to his car so she could get his license plate number.

Michigan Law Against Peeping

According to Michigan legislature section 750.539j, in a situation where someone would reasonably expect privacy, it is illegal to:

  • Surveil someone who is clad only in his or her undergarments or to look at the unclad genitalia, buttocks or breasts of another person in a situation where they would reasonably expect privacy.
  • Take a picture or video or otherwise capture an image of someone’s undergarments or the unclad genitalia, buttocks or breasts of another person in a situation where they would reasonably expect privacy.
  • Transmit, distribute, disseminate, or give access to recordings of these things to another person if you know, or you should know they were illegally recorded.


Looking up the skirt of a woman or are even attempting to do this means you can be charged with a felony punishable by up to 2 years in jail and/or a fine of $2,000.

However, if you do it again, or if you actually do take a photo or video, you could be looking at a five-year prison sentence and up to $5,000 in fines.

Situations Where the Law Applies

Many of these types of crimes result in multiple charges. Since it’s also illegal to commit a crime with a mobile phone, many people caught using their mobile phones to surveil someone or take pictures of someone else without their knowing it can be hit with two or more charges for the same crime. They may also face multiple sentences if convicted.

This law applies not only to upskirting or attempting to see into a private bathroom or locker room. It could apply to something that seems as innocent as sending around a photo of someone in their underwear, or where their underwear is showing.

The Law Doesn’t Apply To Surveillance

There are two particular instances of surveillance that are protected by law. Homeowners can monitor their homes unless it is for a “lewd or lascivious purpose.”

As a homeowner or principal occupant, you are not allowed to surveil a guest in your home secretly in an area where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy – like a bathroom or bedroom.

In addition, the same holds for landlords in a property they own.

The other situation to which this law does not apply is to a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.

Contact an Aggressive Criminal Attorney

Trying to see up someone’s skirt or otherwise spy on them when they are in private is a bigger deal than you might have realized. It’s a felony.

Dr. Ahmad will spend six months in jail for attempting upskirting. If you are facing this charge, you need to obtain the services of an aggressive criminal defense attorney to fight for your future.

Call today