Is Revenge Porn a Crime in California?

As trading explicit photographs online has grown in popularity, laws have been created to protect people from said photographs being used against them. These laws can result in severe penalties for those convicted, as the court views sex-related crimes are as especially heinous.

Defining Revenge Porn

Revenge porn is a relatively new concept in the realm of criminal law. Essentially, revenge porn constitutes sharing nude and/or sexually suggestive pictures of someone online without their knowledge or consent, causing them emotional distress. The following conditions must be proven for someone to be convicted of breaking revenge porn laws in California:

  • The accused party was in possession of an image of the intimate parts of another identifiable person, or an image of that person engaged in a sexual act such as intercourse, fellatio, masturbation, or sodomy.
  • The accused party distributed said image intentionally.
  • The accused party had an agreement with the person visible in the image that the image would remain private and not be shared.
  • The accused party should have understood that sharing the image online would inflict emotional distress on the person visible in the image.
  • The person visible in the image suffered emotional distress as a result of the image’s distribution.

Legally speaking, the “intimate parts” of a person are considered their genitals, anus, or any portion of a female’s breasts below the top of their areola. “Intentional distribution” means that the accused party personally distributed the image or asked another person to distribute it on their behalf.

Note that a person cannot be considered guilty of violating California’s revenge porn laws if they did so while reporting illegal activity, while complying with a court order, or while acting in the course of a legal public proceeding.

Revenge Porn Penalties

The consequences of violating California’s revenge porn laws can be steep depending on the circumstances involved. Revenge porn is classified as a misdemeanor in the state of California. Therefore, the possible penalties include:

  • A 6-month county jail sentence
  • Fines up to $1,000
  • Criminal record
  • Summary probation

If the defendant has been previously convicted for violating revenge porn law or did so by sharing images of a minor, the penalties are increased as follows:

  • A one-year jail sentence
  • Fines up to $2,000

Potential Defenses Against Revenge Porn Accusations

A strong legal defense could mean the difference between incarceration and freedom for someone accused of violating California’s revenge porn law. Every case is unique, and not all defenses will be applicable to all cases. The following are some of the most common legal strategies attorneys use to defend their clients against revenge porn accusations:

  • No intent to distribute: Proving that the defendant intentionally distributed an image of someone’s intimate parts or actions is essential to proving guilt. If the defendant can prove that they did not intend to distribute the image in question, they may be able to get their charges dismissed. It is a valid defense for an accused party to say that if they did share the images, they did so accidentally.
  • No intent to cause distress: The accused will only be found guilty if it can be proven that they knew or reasonably should have known that distributing the image in question would cause emotional distress to the person in the image. If the defendant can prove that they didn’t know this, like claiming that they posted the image as a funny prank, they may be able to avoid a conviction.
  • No distress occurred: The person in the photo experiencing emotional distress is a necessary component for a conviction to take place in a revenge porn case. If it can be shown that the person is not suffering emotionally as they claim to be, it could be possible to have the charges dismissed.
  • Unidentifiable image: If the image includes questionable features that cast doubt as to who was photographed, there may be reason to drop the charges.

Defending Your Reputation

The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch can help create a legal strategy specific to your case with the purpose of having your charges reduced or dismissed. Attorney Andritch has been providing representation in criminal cases since 2000. Your reputation is important, and we can help you defend it. Contact us at (559) 484-2112 or online for a free consultation.

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