Can You Go to Jail for Sharing Someone's Intimate Photos?

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Sharing someone else's intimate images online or through other means of communication is referred to as revenge porn. It's often done to get back at someone for an alleged wrong.

In California, sharing another person's nudes is a disorderly conduct offense. It is punishable by jail time and/or fines. If you have been charged with this crime, the prosecutor must prove certain elements to obtain a conviction. You can challenge the accusations by raising various defenses to cast doubt on the prosecutor's arguments. A criminal defense attorney can help do this.

To discuss your case with an experienced lawyer in Santa Rosa, schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. by calling us at (707) 418-5352 or contacting us online today.

What Is Revenge Porn?

Revenge porn involves distributing sexually explicit photos or videos of another person online, by text, through email, or other forms of electronic communication without the other person's consent. Sexually explicit images include those depicting someone nude or engaged in sexual conduct. They are often shared by a former sexual partner. Still, They may be disseminated by anyone seeking a reaction from the other person.

Revenge porn is usually done as a form of retaliation to harm the other individual because the actor feels that person has harmed them.

In many cases, the person depicted in the images willingly sent them to the individual transmitting them. In other situations, the actor could have gotten them through force or coercion or without the other person's knowledge.

Does California Have a Revenge Porn Law?

California prohibits revenge porn under Penal Code § 647j4.

A person commits the crime if:

  • They intentionally distribute,
  • A photo or video depicting any portion of the intimate body part(s) of someone else – whether unclothed or visible through clothing – or of a person engaged in explicit conduct
  • Intimate body parts include the genitals or anus of a person or the female breast
  • Explicit conduct involves sexual intercourse, sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration, or masturbation;
  • They agreed with the person depicted in the image that it would remain private;
  • They knew or should have known that distributing the depiction could cause serious emotional distress; and
  • The person depicted actually suffers that distress.

Revenge porn is a misdemeanor disorderly conduct offense.

A conviction can result in:

  • A jail term for up to 6 months and/or
  • A fine of up to $1,000

What Must the Prosecutor Prove?

When pursuing a revenge porn case, the prosecutor must prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes that the defendant intentionally distributed the explicit material, was or should have been aware that doing so would cause the other person harm, and that the other person was emotionally injured.

Combating revenge porn accusations requires refuting the prosecutor's arguments and casting doubt in a judge's or jury's minds.

Possible defenses include:

  • Lack of intent: A person who violated the law must have intentionally sent the explicit images. Thus, they could argue that distribution was accidental.
  • Consensual dissemination: The law states that it's an offense when the "persons agree or understand that the image shall remain private." However, the individual depicted in it might have consented to it being shared.
  • Unidentifiable person: It is unlawful to distribute images of an identifiable person. The alleged actor may have a defense if it's difficult to tell who the depiction is of.
  • No intent to cause distress: The purpose of the alleged actor distributing the image must have been to cause the other individual to suffer serious emotional distress. The alleged actor might not have meant to hurt the other person, or the other person might not have been harmed.

Contact Our Firm for Help

Facing charges for revenge porn is serious. You can go to jail and be assessed fines for this internet crime. To pursue a favorable outcome in your Santa Rosa case, reach out to a criminal defense attorney who will be your champion.

At the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C., we deliver aggressive legal representation. Schedule a consultation by contacting us at (707) 418-5352 today.

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