man looking at revenge porn

What Is Considered Revenge Porn in California?

Breakups are sometimes extremely contentious with exes badmouthing one another. But if that isn’t bad enough, some people will do whatever they can to get back at another person. Unfortunately, sometimes this includes what is known as “revenge porn.”

Revenge porn, which became illegal in California in 2013, occurs when someone possesses a sexual image of someone else that they know is supposed to be private but then shares it publicly. 

It is considered a misdemeanor and if convicted can be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in county jail. When the defendant is a repeat offender or the victim is a minor, penalties rise to a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to one year in county jail.

What Is Revenge Porn?

To convict someone of distribution of revenge porn, the prosecution must prove the existence of five factors:

  1. The defendant possessed an image of an intimate body part of another person who can be identified from the image or an image of that person engaged in sexual intercourse;
  2. The defendant intentionally distributed the image;
  3. The defendant and the person in the image had an understanding that the image was to remain private;
  4. The defendant knew or should have known that distributing the image would cause its subject emotional distress; and
  5. The person in the image suffered emotional distress.

To better understand these requirements here are definitions as the court has found them:

Intimate Body Part

An intimate body part includes the genitals, anus, or on females, any part of the breast below the top of the areola.

Intentionally Distributed

This means that the defendant meant to share the image with someone else or caused another person to share it. Accidentally sending or posting the image is not considered to be revenge porn as it is not intentional distribution.

Privacy

There must be evidence that the victim didn’t consent to the defendant sharing the image and that the defendant knew or should have known that sharing it would cause emotional distress. For instance, if a defendant can show that it was shared as a joke, it could be a possible defense depending upon numerous facts.

Emotional Distress

Finally, the prosecutor must show that the defendant’s actions were the cause of the other person’s emotional distress. Therefore if the defendant’s actions did not cause the other person to be humiliated, furious, or anguished it isn’t a crime.

Defenses 

In order to be convicted of revenge porn, the prosecutor must prove all five aforementioned requirements. If the defendant can demonstrate that even one of the requirements was not met, they cannot be convicted. However, it can be difficult to accurately prove things such as intent at the time the image was shared. It is based upon what both sides can prove. Since this can be quite complicated, a knowledgeable and experienced criminal attorney can help. 

The Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman Helps Those in California Who Have Been Charged with a Crime 

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in California, you should be sure to take it seriously. Such a charge can have tremendous life-long effects on you, impacting everything from where you can work to where you can live, to what you are allowed to possess. That’s why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced San Bernardino and Riverside criminal defense attorney who understands criminal law and can help to walk you through the whole process. At the Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman, our San Bernardino and Riverside criminal defense attorneys will work to defend your freedom, collect proper evidence to help your case, and work hard to have the criminal charges against you dropped or reduced. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!