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REVENGE PORN

REVENGE PORN

Revenge porn is defined as distributing, without consent, sexually explicit images of someone else – typically a former, or current sexual or intimate partner – to cause embarrassment or distress. At least thirty-eight (38) states, including the District of Columbia, have laws against revenge porn.

Since most revenge porn crimes take place over the internet, Pennsylvania has determined that a person may be charged under this statute if the victim or the offender is located in this state. Misunderstandings in intimate relationships happen very often, which is why it is important that anytime you send or receive an intimate image you establish a clear understanding of personal boundaries

The most common defense to criminal revenge porn charges is that the victim consented to the image being distributed. For consent to be valid, it must be given knowingly and voluntarily.

Additionally, the prosecutor in these cases often has a problem proving that the defendant was the person who distributed the images online. To overcome that obstacle, a law enforcement officer will often travel to the suspect’s home or office to conduct an interrogation to see if the suspect will confess to the crime. In other cases, law enforcement officer will ask the victim to participate in a “controlled phone call” so that a recording of the conversion can be made to see if the suspect confesses to the crime.

Talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney to find out what your rights are if you are facing criminal charges for revenge porn.

Attorney for Revenge Porn Crimes in West Chester, PA

If you were charged with disseminating revenge porn, you want an experienced attorney who will fight for your rights. Call Skinner Law Firm to learn more about the defenses to revenge porn charges.

With offices located West Chester, PA, Attorney Michael Skinner represents clients accused of misdemeanor and felony offenses throughout the boroughs of West Chester in Chester County, Media in Delaware County, Lancaster in Lancaster County, and Norristown in Montgomery County.

Call the Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 today.


Elements of the Criminal Charge of Revenge Porn

In Pennsylvania, the statute for revenge porn is entitled, “the Unlawful Dissemination of an Intimate Image.” A person is guilty of this offense if the prosecution proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused did the following:

  • disseminated a visual depiction;
  • the depiction is of a former or current sexual or intimate partner;
  • the subject is in a state of nudity or engaged in sexual conduct; and
  • the act was committed with the intent to either harass, annoy or alarm.

Penalties for Revenge Porn in Pennsylvania

Revenge porn is charged under 18 P.A. § 3131. The penalty for revenge porn is usually a second-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to two (2) years of incarceration and up to $5,000 fines.

Posting revenge porn is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor when the person depicted is a minor. Under Pennsylvania law, a first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and $10,000 fines.


Civil Cause of Action for Revenge Porn

Pennsylvania Statute §8316.1 allows a person to recover civil damages for revenge porn. A person may have a cause of action if the complainant is a competent, natural person, or the guardian of a person.

A court of competent jurisdiction may award damage. In deciding damages, the court must consider that dissemination of an intimate image may cause long-term or permanent injury. The court may award the following type of damage:

  • actual damages arising from the incident or $500, whichever is greater; and
  • damages may include loss of money, loss of reputation, or loss of property (whether real or personal).

The court may use its discretion to award up to three times the actual damages sustained, but if it has determined that damage exists, then it may not award less than $500. The court may also award attorney’s fees and any additional award that it deems necessary and proper.


Additional Resources

§ 3131.  Unlawful dissemination of intimate image – Visit the Pennsylvania General Assembly website to find the statutory language for § 3131 that prohibits the unlawful dissemination of an intimate image. Learn more about the civil and criminal penalties for this offense. Also find the definition of the term “visual depiction” as defined in section 6321.

Revenge Porn Laws in Pennsylvania – Visit Cyber Civil Rights for more information about the criminal penalties for revenge porn in Pennsylvania and other states around the country. Holly Jacobs started the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, Ph.D., to end revenge porn and to combat its negative effects.

Online Removal of Porn Posted for Revenge – The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative also has tips to help victims remove images from a website or social media sites. Cyber Civil Rights has worked with all of the major social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit to gauge their policies and find out how to remove the image.


Finding a Lawyer for Revenge Porn Offenses in Chester County, PA

If you were charged with disseminating revenge porn, you want an experienced attorney who will fight for your rights. Call Skinner Law Firm to learn more about defenses to revenge porn charges. With offices located Chester County, PA, Michael Skinner is experienced in fighting crimes that are sexually motivated or involve posting revenge porn.

Attorney Michael J. Skinner represents clients accused of misdemeanor and felony offenses throughout the boroughs of West Chester in Chester County, Media in Delaware County, Lancaster in Lancaster County, and Norristown in Montgomery County.

Call the Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 today for a consultation about your criminal charge.


This article was last updated on January 25, 2017.

Michael Skinner
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