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Is Revenge Porn a Crime?

Revenge porn is the practice of posting explicit or intimate photos—or videos—of another person on the Internet, without their consent. In the past, this practice, while not looked at in a positive light, was not illegal, or at least was somewhat protected via legal loopholes.

 Laptops In A Dark Room

A federal bill in the works, known as ENOUGH (Ending Nonconsensual Online User Graphic Harassment) has both bipartisan support and the backing of Twitter and Facebook, as well as other big tech companies. Many individual states (38 states and the District of Columbia) have already passed laws which outlaw the distribution of so-called revenge porn.

No Revenge Porn Laws in Mississippi

The state of Mississippi has not passed such a law as of this date. While many states are addressing this issue, in order to be found guilty of the crime in the states with specific revenge porn laws, a person must have sent out photos or a video which are considered sexual in nature (they show the person engaging in a sexual act or show intimate body parts). Posting an unattractive photo of your ex in a bathing suit is not considered sexual or pornographic, although it is likely not the best idea.

Revenge Porn Meant to Shame and Humiliate

Those who post revenge porn do so with a goal of humiliating and shaming their victims, and the practice is clearly exploitation. Unfortunately, although the federal bill would make the practice of revenge porn a criminally liable act, the burden of proof is placed, at least in part, on the victim. In other words, it must be shown that the person who posted the photos or video was well aware that the subject in the photos or video expected they would remain private. Further, it must be shown that sharing such explicit photos and videos is harmful to the victim.

Revenge Porn is More Common Than You Think

According to a Data and Society Research Institute and the Center for Innovative Public Health Research report from 2016, as many as one in 25 people across the nation have either been threatened with the posting of a sexual image or have actually been the victim of revenge porn. For young women between the ages of 15 and 29, that number jumps alarmingly to one in ten. Young bisexual or lesbian women have an even higher chance of being the victim of revenge porn.

Even If There is No Federal Law Against Revenge Porn, It Can Still Be Illegal

Today’s technology makes it ridiculously easy to destroy another’s life with a single click of a button, and it is important to remember that even if there is currently no federal law—or state law in a particular state—against revenge porn, this does not make it perfectly legal. While the laws violated by sharing sexual images without consent definitely depend on the jurisdiction and the facts, perpetrators of revenge porn could still find themselves behind bars, with significant financial liability.

Other Remedies for Revenge Porn

Harm to a person’s reputation are traditionally handled in civil court, as the victim has a little more control in civil court as a plaintiff than as a witness in a criminal case. There are so many variables in these cases, that it can be difficult for a victim of revenge porn to determine the best way to proceed. Consider this: If a victim of revenge porn actually took the explicit photo of himself or herself, and the other person simply “shared” it, then the act may fall under copyright violation rather than a criminal act.

Of course, this would assume that any person who takes an explicit photo of themselves registered the photo with the copyright office, which is highly unlikely. Administrative law could provide another approach. The FTC filed an administrative complaint against another owner of a cyber exploitation website, citing unfair business practices. The owner of the website was required to take down the site, and to agree he would never post sexually explicit photos without consent. Even in light of that decision, the website owner can still be criminally prosecuted or even sued in civil court.

Will New Revenge Porn Laws Really Protect Victims?

Proponents of the new revenge porn laws believe that while they are far from perfect, the laws may deter those who think of sending explicit photos into cyberspace to think again. In some cases, other state laws may protect those who are the victims of revenge porn, even if the state has not yet enacted specific revenge porn laws. Some believe that when a person humiliates another through revenge porn, this act should actually be an extension of sexual assault, due to the very far-reaching, serious impact it can have on the victim. In fact, a statement from the eSafety Commissioner’s office in Australia read in part, “…non—consensual sharing of private sexual images can be a form of family violence or sexual abuse.”

The country of Israel, has already gone there—a recent law stipulates those who are convicted of revenge porn will be prosecuted as a sexual offender. Despite this, there are important disparities between those who are victimized by sexual assault and those who are victimized by revenge porn. While just one in five victims of sexual assault are male, men and women are almost equally victims of revenge porn, although slightly more women, particularly young women, suffer such victimization. One thing is certain—the incidences of revenge porn are increasing at an alarming rate. In 2012, there were only eight stories in the international media which used the term “revenge porn.” In 2015, there were 3,176 such stories. Of course, a part of this may be due to the actual term, which was not widely used until 2014-2015.

 

Contact Our Jackson Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you are arrested and charged with a crime in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, you need to fight for your rights and protect your freedom. The best way to do this is to hire an experienced Jackson criminal defense attorney immediately.

 At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for our clients and we can build a defense that is designed to expose the holes in the prosecution’s case against you. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at 1-601-948-1600, 1-877-231-1600 or click on the button below.

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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