What you Should Know about Revenge Porn

What you Should Know about Revenge Porn

Hayes Law has a deep understanding of the law, particularly as it pertains to women who have been victims of sexual abuse and harassment. One of the most deplorable actions that anyone can be subjected to is revenge porn — the unauthorized release of intimate photos or videos, most frequently by a former partner, or ex.  Below we cover what you need to know when dealing with revenge porn, and what to do if it happens to you.

What is Revenge Porn?
Revenge porn involves making nude or sexual imagery public without the consent of the person in that image or video.

Is Revenge Porn a Crime?
In 2013, the California legislature added “revenge porn” as a crime under California Penal Code § 647(j)(4). The statute makes it a misdemeanor offense to intentionally distribute images of another identifiable person depicted in a sexual act “under circumstances in which the persons agree or understand that the image shall remain private.”

According to Women Against Revenge Porn (WARP), this type of situation may be a crime if any of the following facts apply:

  1. You were under age 18 when the photo or video was taken.
  2. The photo or video was taken without your knowledge or consent.
  3. The perpetrator stole the image or video.
  4. You have a restraining order against the perpetrator.
  5. The perpetrator threatened to publish your nude photos.
  6. You live in a state like California, which has made revenge porn a crime.

WARP notes that it is wise to file a police report immediately, no matter the specific details.

Civil Lawsuits Against Revenge Porn
Even if the person who shared sexual imagery of you did not officially commit a crime in your state, you may still be able to file a civil lawsuit against them. A civil suit is a type of legal action seeking to hold someone legally accountable. Additionally, you can seek damages for negative impacts on you, such as pain and suffering caused by having your private images publicly exposed. An experienced lawyer can tell you whether you have a reason to file a civil suit, a criminal suit, or both.

What to Do if You Find Unwanted Intimate Images of Yourself Online
Preserve the evidence of the image(s) or video(s) as soon as you see them online. You can do this properly by:

  • Saving the web pages as PDFs.
  • Taking screenshots of the entire pages that include the image(s) and video.
  • Printing the pages and storing them securely.
  • If there is a video, download the entire video to a secure hard drive.

If you contact an attorney, he or she will take additional steps to preserve the evidence.

Consider Contacting “Without My Consent”
Without My Consent is a non-profit organization that helps women (and men) combat online invasions of privacy. The resources it provides are intended to empower individuals to stand up for their privacy rights, and inspire meaningful debate, regarding the serious problem of online invasions of privacy. Without My Consent has republished the California statutory civil law, as well as criminal law, surrounding revenge porn and other forms of online privacy violations and cyber exploitation.

The California Statute That Protects People Against Revenge Porn

California Civil Code Section 1708.85 states:

(a) A private cause of action lies against a person who intentionally distributes by any means a photograph, film, videotape, recording, or any other reproduction of another, without the other’s consent, if (1) the person knew that the other person had a reasonable expectation that the material would remain private, (2) the distributed material exposes an intimate body part of the other person, or shows the other person engaging in an act of intercourse, oral copulation, sodomy, or other act of sexual penetration, and (3) the other person suffers general or special damages as described in Section 48a.

(b) As used in this section, “intimate body part” means any portion of the genitals, and, in the case of a female, also includes any portion of the breast below the top of the areola, that is uncovered or visible through less than fully opaque clothing.

(c) There shall be no liability on the part of the person distributing material under subdivision (a) under any of the following circumstances:

(1) The distributed material was created under an agreement by the person appearing in the material for its public use and distribution or otherwise intended by that person for public use and distribution.

(2) The person possessing or viewing the distributed material has permission from the person appearing in the material to publish by any means or post the material on an Internet Web site.

(3) The person appearing in the material waived any reasonable expectation of privacy in the distributed material by making it accessible to the general public.

(4) The distributed material constitutes a matter of public concern.

(5) The distributed material was photographed, filmed, videotaped, recorded, or otherwise reproduced in a public place and under circumstances in which the person depicted had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

(6) The distributed material was previously distributed by another person.

Resources for Victims

If you feel unsafe after discovering the online privacy violation, or you are the victim of sexual assault or harassment, it is critical to first ensure your safety. Please notify the proper authorities as soon as possible if you feel you are in danger. There are several crisis hotlines in California and both of these organizations can also offer resources and support:

Revenge porn is outlawed in California.  It is a crime.  You have every right to act upon any individual who has unlawfully invaded your privacy and attempted to smear your reputation through the use of revenge porn.

We understand how sensitive an issue this may be for you and we want you to know that we are here to help. Reach out to us at Hayes Law so that we can ensure your rights are protected and help you obtain the best possible outcome: 858-737-3311

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