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Revenge Porn Law & Defense

PC 647(j)(4) Crimes

Information on the crime of revenge porn is found at California penal code section 647(j)(4). Revenge porn means to reveal sexually explicit images or videos of a person (typically distributed by a former sexual partner) without consent and for the purpose of causing the exposed person distress or embarrassment.

 

Revenge Porn Law

PC 647(j)(4)(A): A defendant is guilty of revenge porn when he or she intentionally distributes the image of the intimate body part of another person, or an image of the person depicted engaged in an act of sexual intercourse, sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration, or masturbation, without consent, and where the person distributing the image knows, or should know, that distribution of the image will cause serious emotional distress, and the person depicted suffers that distress (PC 647(j)(4)(A) [Abbrev.].

A person intentionally distributes an image when he or she personally distributes the image, or arranges, specifically requests, or intentionally causes another person to distribute that image (PC 647(j)(4)(B) [Abbrev.].

An intimate body part means any portion of the genitals, the anus and in the case of a female, also includes any portion of the breasts below the top of the areola, that is either uncovered or clearly visible through clothing (PC 647(j)(4)(C)).

Punishment

Revenge porn is classified as a misdemeanor under PC 647(j)(4). There are several variations of criminal charges of PC 647(j)(4) depending on the circumstances of the case. The following is brief summary of the punishment and possible sentence for any particular charge:

  • Distribute nude images with intent to humiliate: If found guilty, the defendant may be sentenced up to 180 days in jail.

  • Distribute nude images with intent to humiliate with a prior conviction for the same: If found guilty, the defendant may be sentenced up to 1 year in jail.

  • Distribute nude images of a minor with intent to humiliate the victim: If found guilty, the defendant may face up to 1 year in jail.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is period of supervision instead of jail. Probation sentences are allowed in revenge porn cases, but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not a defendant will be allowed to serve a probation sentence after a conviction for PC 647(j)(4) depends on many factors, including the egregiousness of the case and the defendant's criminal history, if any.

Work Release: Work release is form of manual labor that is intended to serve as an alternative to a jail sentence. It is possible for a defendant convicted of revenge porn to serve some, or all, of his or her sentence, or probation sentence, on work release, as opposed to serving time in an actual jail. Each case is different and whether or not the defendant will be allowed to serve any jail time alternatively on work release is decided on a case by case basis. 

Sex offender registration: It is uncommon, but not unauthorized, for a judge to order a defendant to register as a sex offender for any conviction of PC 647(j)(3) or 647(j)(4) if the judge finds that the defendant committed the crime out of sexual compulsion (PC 290.006).

Other penalties may include restraining orders, restitution to victims, fines and court fees, loss of professional license and loss of immigration status or deportation (for non-United States citizens), and more.

Defenses

Consent: Consent to share a sex tape with a another person is an absolute defense to PC 647(j)(3) and 647(j)(4) charges. However, consent to being video recorded or photographed is not the same as consent to distribute or share a private sex tape. When a person sends another person a private video or photograph of a sexual nature there may be implied consent to distribute or share the video or photograph with other persons depending on the circumstances.

Accidental distribution: Unintentional sharing of a sex tape is a defense. PC 647(j)(3) and 647(j)(4) crimes require that the defendant purposefully share the sex tape before the defendant may be found guilty.

Statute of limitations: The district attorney has one year from the date of distribution or sharing of a sex tape or photograph in which to prosecute a revenge porn case or in a lawful civil proceeding.

Less common defenses include: Video or photograph of sexual activity is distributed in the course of reporting an unlawful activity, coerced confessions by police, police misconduct leading to a suppression of evidence, mistake of fact, jury nullification, and more. 

If you are charged with the crime of revenge porn, or penal code 647(j)(3) or 647(j)(4), contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our defense attorneys are available everyday to answer all of your questions and discuss your defense options. Call today!

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