Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Houston Man Arrested for Photographs of Topless Sunbathers in Austin

What’s a fellow to do when he walks into his local convenience store with hard-earned money only to discover that his favorite “gentleman’s magazine” is sold out? Does he go home disappointed, the well-developed plans for a perfect evening thwarted by the inability of the store’s manager to maintain a full inventory? Not if you’re Phu V. Nguyen! He took matters … and a camera … into his own hands.

Mr. Nguyen, a resident of Houston, has been charged with improper photography after he was spotted taking pictures of two topless female sunbathers at Lake Travis in Austin. According to the park ranger who arrested Nguyen near Hippie Hollow Park (perfect setting for such an incident), the shutterbug seemed to be “fixated and overly interested in the two females.” And, although Nguyen first insisted he had nothing more than binoculars, the ranger requested a search and found a camera containing photos of both women.

Texas defines improper photography as “taking a photograph of someone or visually recording them without the person's consent and with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.” If convicted, Nguyen could face up to two years in jail for his recorded fixation. However, Nguyen’s guilt is not so clear. The issue of intent must first be proven. Perhaps Nguyen appreciated the artistic beauty of the female form, nothing more. Or, maybe he was trying to capture the perfect photograph of a rare butterfly and the two women just happened to be nearby every time. The location chosen by the sunbathers also could raise some questions. Lake Travis is a public setting and a court could decide that implicit consent was given once the two ladies decided to remove their tops in a location accessible to anyone.

At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio who are ready to help you with any criminal charges you are facing. Make an appointment to visit with us and discuss your case … but leave the cameras at home.

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