Revenge Porn Laws, Charges and Statute of Limitations

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Revenge porn is officially known under state laws as intentional distribution of non-consensual porn. This is a type of online harassment that happens when an ex-partner or a hacker posts sexually explicit images of someone online without their permission. This crime has been in the news in recent years related to several celebrities. Whether revenge porn involves nude pictures on Facebook or on other electronic media, posting any type of sexually explicit material in this manner online can be a criminal matter.

Revenge porn is a type of cyber sexual harassment that is related to cyberbullying and is taken very seriously by police in all states, especially if there are minors involved under the age of 18. As of 2017, 38 states have laws that outlaw the distribution of revenge pron. However, these laws are still new and laws are continuing to develop. To be guilty of revenge porn, the distributor has to send out videos or pictures that are sexual in nature. This could include showing the intimate body parts of the victim or engaging in any sexual act. The simple posting of an unflattering image of an ex-partner in a bathing suit is not enough under state laws to be revenge porn.

You Tube Special Feature

What are your options when a jilted lover or partner posts sexually explicit images of you online without your consent? Revenge porn victims often have their nude photos posted online, as well as their names and contact information, and in the past have had little legal recourse. That is beginning to change, as the below video illustrates.

Revenge Porn Laws

Most states have different laws about revenge porn, but most define revenge porn as any individual with the intent to harass or annoy another person who does the following:

  • Distributes or publishes electronic or printed material, picture or films that
  • Shows genitals, female breast or anus of another person or
  • Shows that person doing a sexual act.

These actions generally need to be done with the intent to harm the person personally or financially.

Revenge Porn Punishment

Depending upon the state, revenge porn can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. Below are definitions of revenge porn in several states as well as the possible penalties for a conviction.

Alabama

Revenge porn is defined as the distribution of a private, intimate image where the depicted person has not consented to the image being transmitted and the sender intends to harass the person. It is a class A misdemeanor and can be punished by up to a year in jail. Subsequent penalties are class C felonies that are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Arizona

The crime is a felony in this state and is defined as intentionally distributing the image of an identifiable person that is nude or is engaged in sexual activity when the person was expecting to be in private, with the intent to harass, harm or coerce the person. It can be punished by up to 1.5 years in prison and a fine of $150,000.

California

Revenge porn is distributing to a third party any image, video or audio recording of another party to harass, frighten, intimidate, abuse or threaten that person if the image is sexual and depicts that person in the nude or that person is engaged in a sexual act. It is a misdemeanor in California and can be punished by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1000.

Florida

Revenge porn is defined as publishing a sexually explicit image of another party, along with the personal identifying information of the person to a website without that person’s consent, with the purpose of causing emotional distress. It is a first degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $1000 in criminal fines.

North Carolina

Defined as knowingly disclosing a sexual image of a person with the intent of harassing, coercing or intimidating them with the purpose to humiliate or cause financial loss to that person. It is a class H felony and can be punished by up to two years in prison.

An interesting development in recent years is the federal government has been considering the passage of a revenge porn law. The bill is called the Ending Nonconsensual Online User Graphic Harassment Act of 2017. This law would make it a federal crime for someone to post an intimate or explicit photo or video of a person on the Internet.

Revenge Porn Defenses

One of the issues with revenge porn is that sometimes the website owners  where the illicit images are posted are attempted to be charged criminally or held responsible in civil court. One of their lines of defense is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This is a federal law that provides immunity protection to websites that has content that is posted by third parties.

The idea is that when the site is simply a conduit for the illicit images, it is not going to be held responsible for what is posted there by users. However, this immunity is ineffective if the webmaster or website goes beyond just being a conduit and engages in that content being published as a co developer or editor.

For instance, a revenge porn website called UGotPosted.com lost this immunity when it had a lawsuit filed against it in California. The operator of the website ran another site called ChangeMyReputation.com that offered to remove the photos of the victims for $400. The courts found that because the site developer was involved in curating photos and information on the site, he was a provider of content and was not entitled to immunity.

Revenge Porn Cases

  • Revenge Porn Violation Against Ex-House Staffer Depends Upon Timing – Arizona State Rep. Anthony Kern wants state prosecutors to determine if a former legislative staffer violated state law by sharing sexually explicit images about another representative.
  • Bill in Ohio Would Make Revenge Porn a Crime – State Sen. Joe Schiavoni is about to introduce a new bill that would make it a specific crime under Ohio state law to engage in revenge porn. A first violation would be a first degree misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1000.
  • 1,000 People in Denmark Face Revenge Porn Charges After Social Media Crackdown – More than 1000 Danes have been charged after state police began an aggressive crackdown on sharing images without consent on social media sites, including Facebook. Police said that sexually explicit images of 15 year olds were disseminated on Facebook Messenger.
  • Man Sends Revenge Porn Images to Girlfriend’s Boss – A man from Florida sent allegedly sexually explicit photos of a woman he met online to her employer because she did not want to go out with him anymore. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office stated that Giuseppe Garibaldi, 30 had a sexual relationship with the woman and had sex five times. He took pictures of her during sexual activity without her knowledge and then sent them to her boss a few weeks later.

References

Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

About Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

Geoffrey G Nathan is a top federal crimes lawyer and Chief Editor of FederalCharges.com. He is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1988, admitted to practice in both Federal and State courts. If you have questions about your federal case he can help by calling 877.472.5775.