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Allegations in complaint provided sufficient factual basis for guilty pleas to invasion of privacy charges

State v. Jeffrey T. Ziegler, 2019AP858-CR & 2019AP859-CR, District 4, 7/23/20 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

To commit invasion of privacy in violation of § 942.08(2)(d), a person must, among other things, look into another’s dwelling “for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification….” § 942.08(2)(d)1. Contrary to Ziegler’s claim, the allegations in the complaints in his cases provided a sufficient factual basis for this element, and thus his guilty pleas stand.

¶11      The circuit court found that the factual allegations in both criminal complaints, coupled with the reasonable inferences to which they gave rise, established that Ziegler looked into the victims’ windows for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification. See State v. Routon, 2007 WI App 178, ¶21, 304 Wis. 2d 480, 736 N.W.2d 530 (noting that a defendant’s “intent to commit [a] crime may be inferred from the [defendant’s] conduct”); see also State v. Payette, 2008 WI App 106, ¶7, 313 Wis. 2d 39, 756 N.W.2d 423 (in upholding the factual basis for a guilty plea, “[i]t is not necessary that guilt be the only inference that can be drawn from the facts in the complaint, nor that the inference of guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt”).

¶12     Specifically, in Case No. 2017CM1583, the complaint alleged that, upon his arrest for recently looking into M.S.V.’s and other residents’ windows, Ziegler was sweating profusely, breathing deeply, and the zipper on his pants was down. In his interactions with police, Ziegler characterized his actions as “peeping” and stated that the people inside the residences “aren’t victims they are recipients.” The court inferred, based on these facts, that Ziegler looked into the victim’s window for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification. Similarly, in Case No. 2017CM1664, the complaint alleged that Ziegler was looking through a woman’s windows during the evening while she was in her bedroom studying. The court found that, based on these facts, including the nature of the room the victim was in, Ziegler looked into the victim’s window for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.

The factual basis for the second case, at least, is mighty thin. Though the court makes the point that Ziegler pled after the court denied his motion to dismiss the complaints for a lack of sufficient basis to establish the sexual arousal or gratification element (¶¶6, 13-14), that is irrelevant to the legal standard, which requires de novo review of whether the record, in fact, provides a factual basis. State v. Peralta, 2011 WI App 81, ¶16, 334 Wis. 2d 159, 800 N.W.2d 512.

On the other hand, the pleas were apparently part of a plea agreement (¶6 & n.4), and when that’s the case, a court is not required to go to “‘the same length to determine whether the facts would sustain the charge as it would where there is no negotiated plea.’” State v. Sutton, 2006 WI App 118, ¶16, 294 Wis. 2d 330, 718 N.W.2d 146 (quoting Broadie v. State, 68 Wis. 2d 420, 423-24, 228 N.W.2d 687 (1975)). Under that relaxed view, it seems, looking into another’s bedroom window in the evening is enough to eke out an inference of sexual arousal or gratification.

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