A Texas car salesman may have snapped a picture worth a thousand words ... and potentially two years in jail.
Pedro Elimeleo Zuniga-Martinez, 22, of Brownsville, was working at a used-car lot when a female customer told police that he'd taken a picture of her buttocks with his phone. Strangely, Zuniga-Martinez allegedly admitted to taking the photo, but Harlingen's KGBT-TV reports that the alleged butt photographer couldn't find the illicit pic.
What may come of this border-town butt pic?
Texas' Improper Visual Photography Law
Many states have laws which prohibit persons from taking unconsented "upskirt" or "Peeping Tom" photographs, and Texas is no exception. In the Lone Star State, photographing another person without his or her permission with the intent to arouse or gratify sexual desire is a state jail felony.
Zuniga-Martinez's alleged victim told officers that she was looking inside a car -- likely with some part of her buttocks exposed -- when she heard a "camera shutter" noise and saw the 22-year-old holding his cell phone, KGBT reports. Since Zuniga-Martinez admits to taking the photograph, the only thing remaining for prosecutors is to prove that it was taken for sexual gratification.
It's more than possible that Zuniga-Martinez's defense attorney will argue that the picture was taken as part of a prank or joke, and not for arousal purposes. Since Texas law only makes exceptions to this intent rule when the picture is taken in a bathroom or dressing room, prosecutors will be hard pressed to prove that Zuniga-Martinez was using the photo to get off.
Remember, in most states, photographs taken of persons in a public place are entirely legal, even if it is embarrassing.
Detention and Potential Deportation
The young butt photographer is currently in jail on a $5,000 bond. However, the bond amount seems fairly irrelevant at this point since booking records indicate he's on an immigration hold, also known as an ICE hold or ICE detainer.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) often can detain a defendant while his or her immigration status is under review. In Zuniga-Martinez's case, his alleged crime is a felony and may have an element of moral turpitude (from the sexual component, if proven). If Zuniga-Martinez is convicted, it may be up to U.S. immigration officials to determine if this crime qualifies him for removal.
It's also possible that this butt photographer is a U.S. citizen and has no immigration consequences. After all, ICE has been known to make mistakes.
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- Which Crimes Can Get Legal Immigrants Deported? (FindLaw's Blotter)
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