When someone uses a cellphone to secretly record videos or take pictures under the dresses or skirts of unsuspecting victims, it's called "upskirting." One New Jersey legislator said the perpetrators of this crime need to be punished more harshly.

Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images

A bill introduced by Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Jackson) would clarify that upskirting is a crime under the state's invasion of privacy law.

"It's a shame that it has to come to this, but there are these electronic peeping Toms out there," Dancer said. "Now we need laws pertaining to the electronic surveillance of our intimate parts."

Under Dancer's legislation, upskirting would be a third-degree crime. Those convicted would face three to five years in prison, a $15,000 fine, or both. Upskirting would be a second-degree crime if it's committed against a person under 18. Second-degree crimes are punishable by a sentence of five to 10 years behind bars, a fine of up to $150,000, or both.

"These people are not just keeping the images or videos for themselves," Dancer said. "It's going through cyberspace as well today, so this I believe will send a very strong message: There will not be a loophole for an electronic peeping Tom."

In March, Massachusetts' highest court ruled that upskirting was not illegal because the females who were photographed while using mass transit in Boston were not partially or completely nude. In response to the ruling, a law has already been enacted in Massachusetts criminalizing the practice. Dancer said women in New Jersey deserve the same protections.

Victims would also have an opportunity to collect civil damages should the measure be signed into law. A judge would have the discretion to award actual damages, punitive damages and reasonable attorney's fees.