Don’t Photograph That Farm!

A bill just introduced in Florida:

(1) A person who enters onto a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture operations are being conducted without the written consent of the owner, or an authorized representative of the owner, commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, Florida Statutes.

(2) A person who photographs, video records, or otherwise produces images or pictorial records, digital or otherwise, at or of a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture operations are being conducted without the written consent of the owner, or an authorized representative of the owner, commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, Florida Statutes.

(3) As used in this section, the term “farm” includes any tract of land cultivated for the purpose of agricultural production, the raising and breeding of domestic animals, or the storage of a commodity.

Note that subsection 2 is independent of subsection 1 — photographing farms would be made a felony even if the photographer isn’t trespassing (for instance, because he’s on a public road, or lawfully on neighboring property). And not just any felony — a first-degree felony, which is the highest degree felony other than capital crimes and “life felonies” (which carry a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison). The precise term of imprisonment would be dictated by the Florida Sentencing Guidelines, but the maximum would be 30 years.

Plus subsection 1 has problems of its own. First, it makes simple trespasses into serious felonies. Second, it covers even behavior that isn’t trespassing, because it covers visits that are based on oral permission (e.g., going to a party at somebody’s farm), and visits that would generally be seen as implicitly permitted or otherwise nontrespassory (e.g., stopping at someone’s farm to ask for directions, or to sell Girl Scout cookies).

Appalling. Thanks to Opher for the pointer.