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 state-by-state tables provide information regarding laws on assault, harassment, stalking, and other relevant statutes.

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.

Information is up-to-date as of February 2018; if you note any errors or wish to contribute, please contact us at admin@cosplayer-ssn.org.

[ Work in Progress - last updated 02.19.2018 - added Tennessee. ]

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
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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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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