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Understanding the Criminal Offense of Upskirting in Massachusetts

As of 2014, the act of “upskirting” is a misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “Upskirting” is traditionally defined as secretive photographing or videotaping up a woman’s skirt, which was not specifically outlawed until a recent amendment passed by the legislature. The legislature passed this amendment to specifically address upskirting after a highly publicized case involving a man who secretly photographed under a woman’s skirt on an MBTA trolley was found not to be guilty of a crime by the Supreme Judicial Court. Because the change in the law is recent, it’s important to know exactly what the ban includes.

What Activities Constitute Upskirting Under Massachusetts Law?

To convict an individual of upskirting under the new law, a prosecutor must establish the following five elements of the crime:

  1. Intentional photographing, videotaping, or electronically surveilling*
  2. another individual’s sexual or other intimate parts
  3. Photographing, videotaping, or electronically surveilling under or around the individual’s clothing
  4. Photographing, videotaping, or electronically surveilling in a place where the individual being taped would not expect that their sexual or intimate parts would be visible to the public
  5. Photographing, videotaping, or electronically surveilling without the subject’s consent
  6. Photographing, videotaping, or electronically surveilling in secret or with an attempt to conceal the activity

What do these elements mean?

*electronically surveilling: The law defines electronic surveillance in this context to mean “to view, obtain or record a person's visual image by the use or aid of a camera, cellular or other wireless communication device, computer, television or other electronic device.”

Intentional photographing or videotaping another individual’s sexual or other intimate parts: To be convicted, the taping must be done intentionally and with the specific purpose of taping another person’s genitals, buttocks, pubic area or female breast below a point immediately above the tip of the areola.

Under or around the individual’s clothing: The taping/photographing must be done in a way that it looks at an area underneath an individual’s clothing or around an individual’s clothing.

In a place where the individual being taped would not expect that their sexual or intimate parts would be visible to the public: The taping/photographing must be done in a place where a reasonable person would expect that their sexual or intimate parts were private and not visible to the public.

Without the subject’s consent: A photographing/videotaping activity can only be considered upskirting if it is done without the consent or knowledge of the subject.

In secret or with an attempt to conceal the activity: A person must be intending to secretly conduct or

hide the photographing/videotaping activity.

What is the Penalty for Upskirting?

If a person is found guilty of upskirting an adult, the maximum penalty is 2 ½ years is prison or a fine of $5,000, or a combination of imprisonment and a fine. If a person is found guilty of upskirting a child under the age of 18, the maximum penalty is 2 ½ years in the house of correction (or up to 5 years in state prison), or a $10,000 fine, or a combination of both.

The recent change in Massachusetts law to specifically ban upskirting means that there are situations involving this crime that many courts have not dealt with yet. Because an upskirting charge can result in such severe consequences, it is important that you have an experienced Massachusetts defense attorney to represent you in court.


At DelSignore Law, we have represented clients that are in a similar situation as you are likely in right now. We have thorough understanding of criminal law, frequent the court houses in Massachusetts, and have a great reputation with the prosecutors and the judges that will be hearing your case. Call or text 781-686-5924 to speak with a lawyer today.

For further reading, browse our website today where you can learn more about the court process after being charged with upskirting, and read what our clients have to say about us.

Client Reviews
Michael was very professional and explained the process clearly and told us to be patient. After one year the charges got dismissed in the trial. Excellent knowledge of the court systems in the area of Boston. Would highly recommend him Ashwani
A careless decision on my part left me facing charges which would have severely hampered my ability to stay employed and support myself. But attorney DelSignore's skillful analysis and challenging of the evidence against me resulted in a conviction on a lesser charge. Now I'll be able to go on with my life, having learned a lesson I'll never forget. Thank you, Michael. Scott
Mike stuck with my case for 3.5 years and always kept me informed regarding the status. Ultimately, because of his due diligence, we ended up with an OUI not guilty verdict. This case could have gone many ways but his thorough review of the case and exceptional preparedness for trial ultimately drove a positive outcome. Thank you Mike! David
Michael DelSignore did an amazing job with my case! Either him or his partner Julie was always available to answer any questions I had and helped walked me through the entire process. I could not have done it without them! I highly recommend choosing this law firm to deal with your legal needs, you will not be dissatisfied. Ashley
I cannot express the gratitude towards both Michael and Julie for their amazing work and help. It was a very stressful event and they certainly put me at as much ease as possible. From start to finish it took 14 months and all the way through they were both very engaged with me. Today was worth the wait, Michael was great in court and I was rightfully found not guilty. I would recommend Michael and Julie over and over again. Claire
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