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Spurred by Hillsborough case, Senate passes tougher penalties for video voyeurism

The Florida Senate moved on Tuesday to strengthen the state's video voyeurism laws, a proposal created after two Bulgarian women discovered cameras inside their Hillsborough County apartment last summer.

SB 436, sponsored by Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, passed 40-0. Under current law, a first-time violation of video voyeurism -- the act of secretly recording a person dressing, undressing, is nude or when he or she has a "reasonable expectation of privacy." -- is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail or a $1,000 fine. Storms' bill would make it a third-degree felony. Maximum penalties would increase to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Amping up the charge allows law enforcement to more easily obtain evidence and issue search warrants.

Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, added a late amendment that would prevent people 18 and younger from facing felony charges on their first offense.

Storms didn't really want the amendment but accepted it, saying she wanted to get to other bills.

"Love is in the air, thank you, thank you," Joyner said.

The House version, HB 215, sponsored by Tampa Republican Rep. Dana Young has not yet been heard on the floor.

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