Internet sex crimes are becoming common as social media continues to increase in popularity. According to a study by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, over 12 percent of United States internet users have been a victim of non-consensual pornography, or "revenge porn."
Revenge porn often involves someone disclosing or distributing sexually graphic images or videos of a person without their consent. For those accused of these crimes, a strong criminal defense strategy will be required to avoid serious penalties.
While there is currently no federal law against revenge porn, Washington, D.C., and 38 states have laws in place. The state of New York's efforts to enact laws of its own have been stalled, but New York City is taking action.
The city council voted that disclosing or threatening to disclose sexual images of someone without permission and with intent to cause harm will be a misdemeanor and could result in up to one year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. Some supporters of revenge porn laws say that the inclusion of "intent to cause harm" may be difficult to prove and that people should be protected, even if the person who disclosed the images did not mean to harm anyone. But, as the laws stands, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Therefore, people accused of "revenge porn" crimes and their attorneys will likely be able to come up with various criminal defense strategies to avoid conviction.
In 2014, Governor Cuomo signed a bill prohibiting the spreading sexual videos or photos taken without consent. Though, this bill did not address people who have taken sexual photos or videos of themselves and sent them to someone else.
With the new law in place, New York City is attempting to strengthen efforts against the distribution of sexual imagery without consent. Those accused of such crimes may consider speaking to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss their legal options.
Source: CNN, "Revenge porn will soon be a crime in New York City," Sara Ashley O'Brien, Nov. 16, 2017