Laws | State by State

Please Note: This information is provided for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.

If you wish to contact the police regarding an incident at a convention, if it's in a state you havent't spent much time in, you may be unfamiliar with that state's laws. It's also not uncommon for the person who attacked or is harassing you to try to deter you from reporting by claiming it's not illegal, or threatening you with legal action. While not comprehensive, these regional tables provide information regarding laws on assault, harassment, stalking, and other relevant statutes. Calling the police is not always a viable option, and we understand if you're unable to do so; however, sometimes knowledge really is power, and if you inform the person who is harassing you that you're aware of the law, that may help deter them and get them to leave you alone.

If you are reporting a crime to the police, try to include as much detail as you can, including when and where it happened, any witnesses, and the name and/or description of the attacker/harasser.

For information on what you can do to help as a bystander, click here.

If you note any errors or wish to contribute, please contact us at admin@cosplayer-ssn.org.

[ Work in Progress - last updated 05.20.2018 - added New Jersey. ]

California | District of Columbia | Georgia | Illinois | Maryland | Massachusetts | Missouri | New Jersey | New York | Ohio | Pennsylvania | Tennessee | Texas | Washington | US Federal Law


California

Please note that California has a Victims' Bill of Rights.

Conventions include: Ani-Me Con, Anime Expo, Anime Impulse, Animé Los Angeles, Bak-Anime, Epic ACG Fest, FanimeCon, Kraken Con, Super Dimension Convention, Yaoi-Con, YumeCon.

Category Current Statute
Cyberbullying Using electronic communication to make someone fear for their safety, or the safety of their family. In addition, if a crime is recorded with "the intent to encourage or facilitate the offense" is an aggravating factor.
Disorderly Conduct Using obscene gestures or language, loitering in a bathroom with the intent of engaging in a lewd act, being intoxicated and impeding your path in a public area.
Harassment Following someone in public, making obscene communications, and/or threatening or assaulting someone.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, political affiliation, disability, or age.
Indecent Exposure Flashing is illegal.
Photography/Audio & Video Recording As a "two party consent" state, you may NOT record conversations you are privy to without the consent of the other person(s). However, audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape Sexual conduct when the person is under fourteen (14), incapacitated, or under threat of force.
Sexual Assault There are several laws on the books in CA regarding sexual assault, including Forcible Pentration, Oral Copulation, Sexual Battery, and Sodomy.
Stalking Repeatedly following and/or harassing someone and making a credible threat against someone or their family that leaves them in fear of their safety.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph the intimate parts of your body without your consent. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.
Other Laws There is a Public Nuisance law that will apply if a person or group of people are persistently harassing people during a convention, or indeed, in any particular area.
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District of Columbia

Conventions include: Anime USA, Otakon.

Category Current Statute
Disorderly Conduct Loud, abusive, or disruptive behavior in a public place, intentionally making someone fear for their safety or damage to personal property, preventing them from safely using public transportation, "crowding" them, or inciting violence. It s illegal to obstruct someone's path in a public place.
Harassment Following someone in public, making obscene communications, and/or threatening or assaulting someone.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or political affiliation.
Indecent Exposure Flashing is illegal.
Photography/Video As a "one party consent" district, you may record any audio conversation you are privy to without the consent of the other person. Audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape Covered under Sexual Abuse laws. Sexual conduct when the person is under thirteen (16), incapacitated, or under threat of force.
Sexual Assault Covered under the Sexual Abuse laws of the District. It is illegal to initial sexual content without consent with the intent to harass, embarass, degrade, or arouse.
Stalking Intentionally causing another person emotional distress, to fear for their safety or the safety of others, or to feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened. Requires two (2) or more incients.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph the intimate parts of your body without your consent. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.
Other Laws
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Georgia

Conventions include: Anime Weekend Atlanta, Dragon Con, Kumi Con, Momocon, Tiger Con

Please note that if you talk back to someone who is harassing you, you should keep it simple and polite (e.g. please stop harassing me). State laws apparently prohibit offensive or vulgar language/actions both without and WITH provocation. In other words, if someone's harassing you and you flip them off or say something like, "Leave me the f*** alone," you may find yourself in some legal trouble.

Category Current Statute
Disorderly Conduct It is illegal to act in a violent or loud way that causes others to fear for their safety. What is commonly referred to as "fighting words" is prohibited - basically anything that might cause a fight to break out.
Harassment Using any kind of electronic communications to harass or threaten someone is illegal. In-person harassment falls under stalking or disorderly conduct.
Hate Crimes NO hate crime laws.
Indecent Exposure Exposure of genitals, public fondling, or behaving in a "lewd manner" while in a state of partial or total undress.
Photography/Video As a "one party consent" state you may record any audio conversation you are privy to without the consent of the other person. Audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape "Carnal knowledge" of a female against her will, or one who is under ten (10) years old.
Sexual Assault Basically, when a person with some form of power or control over the person engages in sexual activity with them. Unwanted sexual contact in other situations is covered under the sexual battery statute.
Stalking Following or contacting another person, or placing them under surveillance, with the purpose of harassing or intimidating them. This includes repeated electronic communications as well. Requires only ONE incident.
Voyeurism "Up-skirt" photos were just made illegal in Georgia in May of 2017.
Other Laws
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Illinois

Conventions include: Anime Central, Anime Midwest, Anime Senpai, Anime-Zap!, Chicago Pop Culture Con, Con+Alt+Delete.

Category Current Statute
Cyberbullying It is illegal to use electronic communications to harass, make obscene proposals that offend, or make threats.
Disorderly Conduct Shouting, cursing, actions that may lead to a fight, or anything that alarms or disturbs another.
Harassment Any communication - verbal, written, electronic - that is obscene or indecent and made with the intent to offend, threaten, or annoy someone.  In addition, intimidating someone with threats ("do this or I'll do something bad to you") is a felony.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
Indecent Exposure Exposing one's self or engaging in sexual acts in public, done with the intent of obtaining sexual gratification.  Chicago's law is a little more specific as to what parts of the body can be exposed to be considered "indecent".
Photography/Video As a "two party consent" state, you may NOT record conversations you are privy to without the consent of the other person(s).  Audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy, but unlike in some other states, you must make sure you are not doing it in a "surreptitious" manner.  To protect yourself, you may wish to inform the person you are recording that you are doing so; otherwise you may be found in violation of the law.
Rape Covered under sexual assault laws.
Sexual Assault An act of sexual penetration done without consent, either through the use of force or when the person was unable to consent.
Stalking On at least two occasions, engaging in behavior that makes someone fearful.  If someone is following you and you tell them that you are uncomfortable and you want them to leave you alone, they can be arrested for stalking if they continue to follow you, even if they are not making specific threats to harm you.  The fact that you told them you were uncomfortable and asked them to stop is enough to demonstrate that you were fearful.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph the intimate parts of your body without your consent. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.  
Other Laws
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Maryland

Conventions include: Katsucon, MAGFest, Otakon, Universal FanCon.

Category Current Statute
Disorderly Conduct Being disruptive in a public place or obstructing someone's free passage - the statute is not very well-defined, but should cover any and all abusive behavior.
Harassment Following someone in a public place or maliciously causing someone distress or alarm. NOTE: under the law, this behavior is not considered harassment UNLESS you tell them to stop at least once.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Indecent Exposure Flashing is illegal.
Photography/Video As a "two party consent" state, you may NOT record conversations you are privy to without the consent of the other person(s). However, audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape Sexual intercourse without consent, either by force or incapacitation, or if the victim is under fourteen (14) and the perpetrator is at least four (4) years older.
Sexual Assault Under sexual offense and sodomy laws, other sexual content without consent, either by force or incapacitation, or if the victim is under fourteen (14) and the perpetrator is at least four (4) years older.
Stalking Intentionally causing another person emotional distress, to fear for their safety, or to feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened. Requires two (2) or more incients.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph the intimate parts of your body without your consent. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.
Other Laws

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Massachusetts

Conventions include: Anime Boston, Nauticon.

Category Current Statute
Disorderly Conduct Activity in public that is threatening, violent, invading privacy, or making a situation hazardous.
Harassment Mostly covered under disordely conduct laws, although there is a law prohibiting "of the opposite sex" from saying offensive comments to you. This statute is woefully unhelpful to anyone harassed by someone of the same gender and others in the LGBTQ+ community.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Indecent Exposure Under the statute, someone must intentionally expose their genitals to another person, who was subsequently offended by the act, to be considered indecent exposure.
Photography/Video Wiretapping laws in Massachusetts are extremely restrictive. They are a "two-party consent" state, meaning you cannot record private conversations without the consent of all individuals involved. However, while most states allow recording in "public" areas where there is "no expectation of privacy," that distinction does not exist here. There have been several cases of people being arrested for recording police activity because they did not inform the police beforehand. If you feel that you need to record public conversations to document harassment, make sure you repeatedly inform the person they are being recorded.
Rape Sexual intercourse without consent, by force, or with threat of bodily harm.
Sexual Assault There are indecent assault & battery and sodomy statutes, although they are fairly vague.
Stalking Under Massachusetts law, stalking must involve THREE willful acts that alarm, threaten, or distress you.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph private areas of your body without your consent. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.
Other Laws
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Missouri

Conventions include: Anime St. Louis, Cosplacon, Sausomecon.

Category Current Statute
Disorderly Conduct Blocking your path in a public place, using offensive and threatening language that is likely to either start a fight or put you in fear for your safety, and oddly, using vulgar and offensive language on a bus or bus company property.
Harassment Making threats, using offensive language that makes someone fearful, making repeated unwanted contact, or any other action that causes distress is considered harassment.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability.
Indecent Exposure Sexual misconduct laws cover exposure of genitalia or solicitation of sexual activity if either offends the other person.
Photography/Video As a "one party consent" state you may record any audio conversation you are privy to without the consent of the other person. Audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape Sexual intercourse while someone is unconscious or otherwise unable to consent, or by the use of force.  Statutory rape applies to sexual intercourse with someone under the age of fourteen (14) OR if the person is older than twenty-one (21) and has sex with someone under the age of seventeen (17).
Sexual Assault Covered by sexual abuse and sexual misconduct laws - sexual contact without the other person's consent.
Stalking Someone is guilty of stalking if they (on at least two occasions) threaten your safety, the safety of your family, the safety of your animals, or damage to your property.  In addition, if you are under the age of seventeen and you are made distressed because you are being followed by someone twenty-one years or older, that is considered stalking, even if they do not make direct threats.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph the intimate parts of your body without your consent. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.  In addition, the charge becomes more severe if the photos are disseminated.
Other Laws
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New Jersey

Conventions include: AnimeNEXT, Castle Point Anime Convention, CloverCon, DerpyCon, J1-Con, Tosho-con.

Category Current Statute
Cyberbullying Making threats or lewd/obscene statements is considered cyberbullying, but intent to harass/bully must be demonstrated.  If someone claims they were just doing it as a "joke" then they may be able to get away with it unless it can be proven this is not true.
Disorderly Conduct Using loud or abusive language, making threats, being violent, or making an unsafe situation in public.
Harassment Any communication that threatens, uses offensive language, or is designed to annoy or alarm someone.  Coercing someone using threats is also a criminal offense.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, or disability.
Indecent Exposure Exposing one's genitals in public.
Photography/Video As a "one party consent" district, you may record any audio conversation you are privy to without the consent of the other person.  Audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape Aggravated Sexual Assault in the First Degree - sexual penetration committed through use of force/intimidation, during the commission of a felony, when the victim was incapacitated, or the victim was under the age of 13.
Sexual Assault Sexual contact committed through use of force/intimidation, during the commission of a felony, when the victim was incapacitated, or the victim was under the age of 13.
Stalking On at least two occasions, engaging in behavior that makes someone fearful or experience emotional distress, including following someone or communicating harassment and/or threats.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph the intimate parts of your body without your consent. The law is not clear on if "up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.  
Other Laws

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New York

Conventions include: Albacon, BoroughCon, Fan World, Genericon, Liberty City Anime Con, New York ComicCon, Tora-Con.

Category Current Statute
Disorderly Conduct Loud, abusive, or disruptive behavior in a public place, with an intent to obstruct someone's path, make them fear for their safety, or to incite violence.
Harassment Repeated actions (at least twice) with no legal purpose that upset or alarm someone.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Indecent Exposure Flashing is illegal.
Photography/Video As a "one party consent" district, you may record any audio conversation you are privy to without the consent of the other person. Audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape Sexual intercourse performed without consent, either by force or while the person is incapacitated, or with a person under the age of consent (eleven for perpetrators of all ages, seventeen if the perpetrator is over twenty-one years old).
Sexual Assault Covered by sexual misconduct, criminal sexual assault, sexual abuse, and forible touching laws.
Stalking Intentionally causing another person emotional distress, to fear for their safety or the safety of others, or to feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened. Requires two (2) or more incients.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph the intimate parts of your body without your consent. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.
Other Laws Loitering without a legitimate purpose is illegal.
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Ohio

Conventions include: Animatic Con, Colossalcon, Gojotekicon, Matsuricon, NyanCon, Ohayocon, Ratha Con, Zipcon.

Category Current Statute
Disorderly Conduct Making offensive comments, including to provoke violence.
Harassment Mostly covered under stalking laws; there is also a law prohibiting telephone harassment.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, or ethnicity.
Indecent Exposure Flashing and public masturbation is illegal.
Photography/Audio & Video Recording As a "one party consent" state, you may record any audio conversation you are privy to without the consent of the other person. Audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape Sexual conduct when the person is under thirteen (13), incapacitated, or under threat of force.
Sexual Assault Mostly covered under the rape statute. Nonconsensual groping is considered Gross Sexual Imposition.
Stalking Knowingly causing someone mental distress or making them/their family believe they are in danger of physical harm. Requires two (2) or more incidents. Includes encouraging someone else to harass the person.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph the intimate parts of your body without your consent. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.
Other Laws
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Pennsylvania

Conventions include: BlurrieCon, Colossalcon East, Hazard Con, SaikouCon, Sangawa Project, Setsucon, Shikkaricon, Tekko, Zenkaikon.

Category Current Statute
Disorderly Conduct Using obscene gestures or language, fighting or threatening, creating an offensive environment.
Harassment Following someone in public, making obscene communications, and/or threatening or assaulting someone.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, or ethnicity.
Indecent Exposure Flashing is illegal.
Photography/Audio & Video Recording As a "two party consent" state, you may NOT record conversations you are privy to without the consent of the other person(s). However, audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape Sexual conduct when the person is under thirteen (13), incapacitated, or under threat of force.
Sexual Assault There are several laws on the books in PA regarding sexual assault, including Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Indecent Assault, and Sodomy.
Stalking Knowingly causing someone emotional distress or making them/their family believe they are in danger of physical harm. Requires two (2) or more incidents.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph the intimate parts of your body without your consent. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.
Other Laws Open Lewdness laws may cover activity where nudity is not involved but it is clearly obscene.
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Tennessee

Conventions include: Anime Blues Con, Con Nooga, Conapalooza, JAMPcon, Middle Tennessee Anime Convention, MidSouthCon, Murfreesboro Anime and Comic Kon.

Category Current Statute
Disorderly Conduct Any noises made in public that serve to annoy, alarm, or threaten.
Harassment ONLY covers harassment made over the phone, in writing, or online. In-person harassment is covered by disorderly conduct & stalking statutes.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, ethnicity, disability, age, or sexual orientation. Gender identity is NOT covered.
Indecent Exposure Flashing is illegal.
Photography/Video As a "one party consent" state, you CAN record conversations you are privy to without the consent of the other person(s), and audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape Sexual intercourse without consent, by force, incapacitation, bodily injury, or fraud. The statutory rape laws are somewhat complicated, but sexual penetration of a victim under the age of twelve (12) is always considered rape. Other statutes apply if the victim is under the age of eighteen with at least a four (4) year age difference, or if the rapist is in a position of power.
Sexual Assault Sexual battery and sodomy laws cover sexual activity without consent by force, incapacitation, fraud, or bodily injury.
Stalking If someone has contact with you without your consent, at least twice, they can be charged with stalking.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph you without your consent if the photographer is doing it for their own sexual arousal or to embarrass/humlitate you. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.
Other Laws
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Texas

Conventions include: AggieCon, A-Kon, Ama-Con, Animania Wichita Falls, Anime Austin, AnimeCTX, Anime Dallas, AnimeFest, Anime Sekai, ArlingCon, Comicpalooza, Delta H Con, Dream Con, Fan Expo Dallas, Magical Girl Day, Kameha Con, Okashicon, Oni-Con, Realms Con, San Japan, Texas Anime and Gaming Expo.

Category Current Statute
Cyberbullying It is illegal to repeatedly contact someone via electronic communication with the intent of harassing, embarrassing, intimidating, threatening, or tormenting them.
Disorderly Conduct Using abusive, vulgar, or offensive works or gestures in public where it leads to a "breach of the peace" - i.e. actions that may lead to a fight.
Harassment Making threats, using offensive language that makes someone fearful, making repeated unwanted contact, or any other action that causes distress is considered harassment.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, or ethnicity.
Indecent Exposure Exposing one's genitalia or buttocks to another person without consent in a manner that alarms or upsets the other person.
Photography/Video As a "one party consent" state you may record any audio conversation you are privy to without the consent of the other person. Audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape Rape is covered under the sexual assault statutes.
Sexual Assault Intentionally and knowingly engaging in sexual contact with someone without their consent.  It's considered "aggravated sexual assault" if it was done with a threat of violence, if violent acts were actually committed, during a kidnapping, if certain drugs (roofies, GHB, or ketamine) were used, or if the victim is under fourteen (14) years of age and/or disabled.
Stalking On at least two occasions, engaging in behavior that causes another person to feel harassed, distressed, alarmed, embarassed, tormented, and/or in fear of harm coming to themselves, their significant other, or their family.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph the intimate parts of your body without your consent. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.  
Other Laws
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Washington

Conventions include: Kobe-Kon, KuroNekoCon, Radiant Northwest, Sakura-Con.

Category Current Statute
Disorderly Conduct ONLY abusive language that makes you fear for physical violence or obstructing your path.
Harassment These laws mainly cover threats of physical violence. Other behavior like catcalling may still be able to be considered harassment, however, if you become fearful because of it.
Hate Crimes Higher penalties for crimes motivated by race, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.
Indecent Exposure Any exposure of genitals that is intentionally done with the purpose of causing distress or alarm.
Photography/Video As a "two party consent" state, you may NOT record conversations you are privy to without the consent of the other person(s). However, audio and video recording is legal in public places where there is no expectation of privacy.
Rape Sexual intercourse without consent, by force, during a kidnapping, or when the person was incapacitated.
Sexual Assault There are not separate laws for sexual assault; they are included in rape statutes.
Stalking The law requires two incidents of someone trying to frighten, intimidate, or harass a person. There is also a cyberstalking law that prohibits electronic communication with the intent of frightening, intimidating, or harassing someone either through threats or obscene content.
Voyeurism It is illegal to photograph private areas of your body without your consent. "Up-skirt" and "down-blouse" photography is illegal.
Other Laws
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United States Federal Law

Category Current Statute
Cyberstalking Using mail, any interactive computer service or electronic communication service to make someone fear for their safety, or the safety of their family.
Stalking It is against federal statute to travel across state lines with the intent to harm, intimidate, or harass someone.

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