With the increasing popularity of security cameras and hi-tech doorbells and other systems, Virginia residents should be aware of a couple of criminal statutes that are implicated by the use of these technologies.

Virginia has a wiretapping statute which prohibits a person from capturing simultaneous audio and video recordings of someone without that person’s consent. The single best way to avoid violation of these statutes is to ensure that any video equipment you install does not have the capability of capturing any audio.  Yes, you could just employ a policy that you never activate or use the audio component but at some point, someone will succumb to the temptation to listen “just once.” VA Code §19.2-62. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title19.2/chapter6/section19.2-62/ 

Virginia also prohibits video recordings of people who are partially or fully unclothed without their consent.  So, video cameras should never be mounted in a place where people are expected to be fully or partially undressed or where they would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  No cameras in bathrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms and similar areas, or cameras on the exterior of your house pointed into the rooms of a neighbor’s home, not just the bedroom or bathroom.   It does not matter if the camera is readily apparent or that there are signs indicating the use of such video recording.  There are criminal penalties for recording in such areas pursuant to Virginia Code §18.2-386.1. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter8/section18.2-386.1/

Community associations that decide to have video cameras in the common areas also need to develop protocols for how long recordings are maintained, how the information is stored and destroyed, and how to give notice of video surveillance.  Community associations that are tasked with approving the installation of security cameras or doorbells by owners also need to develop uniform standards for installation, and should clearly inform all applicants about the potential for criminal liability under Virginia Code 19.2-62 and 18.2-386.1.