Gunnison Beach photography problems raise concerns about child pornography and privacy

With cellphones and tablets as ubiquitous as they are today, nude patrons at Gunnison Beach have to either accept that they may be photographed or take a variety of precautions to shield themselves from prying lenses, such as wearing large hats or setting up screens around their beach sites. As New Jersey’s last remaining clothing-optional beach, voyeurism certainly isn’t a new problem at Gunnison Beach, but the digital age has made it incredibly easy for surreptitious photographers to take footage of nude adults—and sometimes children—and then distribute it electronically without their knowledge or permission.


Unfortunately for Gunnison Beach regulars, reported in 2011 that sneaky “photographers have the law on their side.” Criminal charges for lewdness or child pornography are applicable only to a small portion of photographers, and invasion of privacy crimes are mostly inapplicable due to the public nature of the beach.


Lewdness and Gunnison Beach Photographers

New Jersey law defines lewd acts as the exposing of a person’s genitals, for sexual motivations, under circumstances where the person is likely to be observed by other people and cause them alarm or dismay. The offense is classified as a disorderly persons offense, which carries penalties of up to 6 months in prison, but it can be upgraded to a fourth degree crime, which carries penalties of up to 18 months in prison, if the lewd acts are committed in front of a child under the age of 13. N.J.S.A. 2c:14-4.


In the context of photography at Gunnison Beach, lewdness charges would only apply if a photographer exposed himself while on the beach, whether by flashing, masturbating, engaging in sexual intercourse, etc. Police could arrest the photographer in such cases and take him into custody, temporarily preventing him from taking any more pictures. If convicted, a more long term restriction prohibiting him from visiting nude beaches could then be included in his probation or parole.


Child Pornography and Gunnison Beach Photographers

Photographing or filming a child under 16 years of age in a sexual act or in the simulation of a sexual act is a second degree crime in New Jersey, unless the photographer is the child’s parent or guardian, in which case the offense becomes a first degree crime. In addition to a possible sentence of up to 10 years for a

second degree offense or 10-20 years for a first degree offense, anyone convicted of producing child pornography is required to register as a sex offender and comply with the state’s sex offender monitoring and reporting laws. N.J.S.A. 2c:24-4. Federal child pornography laws are somewhat broader than New Jersey’s and protect children up to the age of 18 rather than 16. The sentence for federal child pornography production is 5-20 years, unless the defendant has certain prior sex offenses on his record, in which case the sentence is extended to 15-40 years.


As with lewdness, photographers at Gunnison Beach could only be arrested for child pornography in the limited circumstances proscribed by the statute. Taking non-sexual photographs of children, for example, might not be covered. Similarly, provocative pictures of young-looking but over-age adults might not implicate the child pornography statute, although there is a presumption under the law that such young-looking persons, when depicted in pornographic materials, are deemed to be children under the legal age. To overcome this presumption, a defendant would have to provide specific evidence of the age of the subjects in the allegedly pornographic material. Gunnison Beach photographers who rely on hidden cameras would likely have some difficulty identifying the subjects in their photos and obtaining this type of evidence.


Invasion of Privacy Charges and Gunnison Beach Photographers

Where lewdness and child pornography charges fall short in addressing the issue of surreptitious photographers at Gunnison Beach, New Jersey’s invasion of privacy law almost provides a solution. The law makes it a third degree crime to photograph, film, or otherwise record the image of another person, without his or her consent, when engaged in sexual activity or when his or her intimate parts are exposed. However, the law only applies in circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed, and because Gunnison Beach is public, patrons have no such expectation of privacy. N.J.S.A. 2C:14-9.


Another possible option for legal recourse involves the civil tort of invasion of privacy. New Jersey courts allow plaintiffs to file charges for money damages if their photograph or likeness is appropriated and exploited commercially without their consent. Gunnison Beach patrons could bring such claims if their pictures were distributed through the internet or any other medium for commercial profit, but they would first have to become aware of the image’s commercial exploitation and find the responsible parties. This type of litigation can be complicated and may even exacerbate the invasion of privacy by generating negative publicity, but it can also be a very lucrative solution under the right circumstances.


Contact a Gunnison Beach Public Photography Attorney

For more information about the legality of photographing Gunnison Beach patrons, or to schedule a free and confidential meeting to discuss any charges you’re facing for taking photographs at Sandy Hook, call me, Anthony N. Palumbo, Esq., at 1-866-664-8118. As Monmouth County Lewdness and Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer with more than 35 years of experience, I’ll be able to go over the legal provisions involved in your case, the options for resolving your charges, and the best strategies to protect your rights and reputation during the process.




Charges filed against Manalapan woman who allegedly streamed video of child sexual assault over the internet

As reported by CBS News, a Manalapan woman has been accused of sexually assaulting a 5 year old girl and streaming videos of the abuse during online video chats. The woman pled not guilty to state sex crimes charges and plans to plead not guilty to similar federal charges in the case.


Under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, committing an act of sexual penetration with a victim who is less than 13 years old is classified as first degree aggravated child sexual assault and is punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison. Committing an act of sexual contact with a victim under 13 years old can be separately charged as a second degree sexual assault, which carries penalties of 5 to 10 years in prison.


The incident in this case could also result in charges for the creation and distribution of child pornography. In New Jersey, it’s considered second degree child endangerment to create child pornography and a conviction carries a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison. Distributing child pornography in any manner, including over the internet, is a second degree crime, subject to a sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison. Under federal child pornography laws, a person who creates, distributes, possesses, or views child pornography will be sentenced to at least 5 but no more than 20 years in prison.


Sexual offenses involving children are some of the most damaging offenses in criminal law, and the mere accusation that a person has committed a child sexual assault can be enough to destroy that person’s family and career forever. If you’ve been charged with child sexual assault in Monmouth County or anywhere else in New Jersey, you need a knowledgeable and skilled child sex abuse defense attorney who will fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed. For a seasoned criminal defense attorney, you can contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, on my website or at 1-866-664-8118 for a free and confidential consultation.