The ease of posting images and information online, combined with the difficulty of permanently removing anything from the internet, means that the internet is a prime area for harassment to occur. Florida has criminalized the online publishing of revenge porn, or sexual images posted online without the subject’s consent, and often as an act of revenge by a former romantic partner. If you have been charged with revenge porn or another sexual offense, you need the assistance of an experienced attorney who can defend your rights.Revenge Porn
In Florida, a person commits sexual cyberharassment when he or she:
- Publishes sexually explicit images;
- Containing personal identifying information about the subject;
- Without the subject’s consent; and
- With the intent to cause substantial emotional distress.
The law went into effect on October 1, 2015, making Florida the seventeenth state to criminalize sexual cyberharassment.Images
Sexually explicit images include photographs, pictures, videos, motion pictures, films, or representations of a person who is nude or engaged in sexual conduct, including intercourse, masturbation, sadomasochistic abuse, sexual battery, lewd exhibition of the genitals, and any contact with another’s genital area or female breasts. Nudity includes any exposure of the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast.
The law only applies to publishing images on websites or social media sites, however. Transmitting images that would otherwise be considered revenge porn through email, text messaging, or apps like Snapchat, is not covered by this law.Intent
Florida’s revenge porn statute requires that the picture be distributed with the intent to cause emotional distress. Revenge porn is illegal because even though the subject of the photograph may have given consent for the picture to be taken, the victim had a reasonable expectation that the image would remain private.Penalties
Generally, revenge porn will be charged as a first degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by:
- Up to one year’s imprisonment;
- Up to six months’ probation; and
- A fine of up to $5,000.
Second and subsequent offenses are third degree felonies, punishable by any combination of:
- Imprisonment of up to five years,
- Probation of up to five years, and
- A fine of up to $5,000.
Those who publish images of minors under age 18 will also be subject to third degree felony charges under Florida’s child pornography laws.Revenge Porn Websites
In recent years, several websites have been created that are dedicated to revenge porn, featuring nude and sexually explicit photos and videos of people, posted without the subjects’ consent, usually by former romantic partners. Often, these sites include personal information, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, employers, and links to social media pages. Some revenge porn sites have been shut down, but new sites appear frequently, and content from the sites is widely distributed online, making it difficult, if not impossible, to remove content from the internet.
Criminal charges for sex offenses have a strong stigma and can affect many areas of an offender’s life. If you have been charged with revenge porn in Florida, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case.