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Thirty-Eight States Now Make Revenge Porn Illegal: But What Exactly Is It?

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Throughout the country, the legal community is seeing growing support for a growing initiative known as “cyber civil rights.” In fact, one group has compiled a wealth of information of various states’ laws and regulations on cyber-bullying and harassment. The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative currently reports that 38 states even have laws that make it a criminal offense to post so-called “revenge porn” on the Internet. Of course, for every new law, there is usually a period of time during which the public must become aware of that law and what exactly constitutes a violation.

What exactly is “revenge porn?”

The first clue is, it’s not just revenge. Florida law describes the offense of “sexual cyber-harassment” as publishing a sexually explicit image of a person to a website without consent, and with the intent of causing substantial emotional distress to the depicted person. 

How bad is the problem?

According to Data & Society, about 4% of Americans claim to have been threatened with revenge porn. That’s roughly over 10 million people. It affects regular people and celebrities alike. From the infamous Gawker lawsuit, to Paris Hilton’ and Emma Watson’s sex tapes, celebrities have contended with nonconsensual invasions of privacy for years. Often, they relied on civil remedies in order to recover compensation for the alleged harms they incurred. However, only recently have states begun to criminalize the posting of explicit material online.

In fact, the Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law reports that this “non-consensual pornography” can result in “lifelong mental health consequences for victims, damaged relationships, and social isolation.” Therefore, this is indeed becoming a serious public health and legal crisis in America. Hence, the creation of strict laws intended to curtail it.

What are the penalties for posting sexually explicit content without permission?

While federal laws still do not directly address the problem, most states are moving toward making revenge porn illegal. In Florida, a first offense is charged as a First-Degree Misdemeanor. This can carry up to a 1-year jail term and $1,000 fine.

Second and subsequent offenses can be charged as Third-Degree Felonies, which carry sentences of up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation, and $5,000 fine.

Charged With Cyber Crimes in Tampa

With 3 offices throughout the Tampa Bay area, the attorneys of Roman & Roman, P.A. have spent over 30 years fighting for the rights of those accused of crimes in Florida. Every case is unique, and no one can guarantee success. However, the attorneys of Roman & Roman consistently help criminal defendants avoid lengthy jail terms and help to protect clients from unfair or improper charges.

If you or someone you know gets charged with a cyber-crime in Florida, you need aggressive and experienced representation. Laws are constantly changing. Get the help you need to avoid long-term damage to your reputation, your career, and your freedom. Cyberbullying and revenge porn are just two or the many crimes prosecutors can bring against a defendant. Make sure you know your rights. Do not speak to anyone until you’ve talked to an attorney.

Resources:

jaapl.org/content/44/3/359

datasociety.net/blog/2016/12/13/nonconsensual-image-sharing/

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