“Revenge Porn” Soon to Become Illegal in Florida

A scorned paramour who posts nude images or video clips of an estranged ex-lover isn’t likely to deemed great dating material. But as of this moment, they probably won’t face criminal charges, at least in Florida.
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That is almost certainly going to change very soon.

The practice, dubbed “revenge porn,” is the subject of SB 538, a measure on sexual cyber-harassment. Recently passed by the Florida Senate 38-2, the bill is on its way to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk for final approval. Most predict he will sign it.

Some have called the measure “watered down,” and critics say it doesn’t grant enough protections for victims. Still, it creates a new category of crime of which people should make themselves aware before firing off a few photos out of spite.

It is essentially makes illegal the practice of posting sexually explicit photos or videos of another person to the Internet without his or her permission.

Originally, the Senate version of the bill included all electronic distributions of this material – text messages, social media postings, mass e-mails, Snapchat and more.

However, the updated version applies only to posts to websites. The original version of the bill required the victim be identifiable in the photo by some means, be it there face or some other detail. Now, the measure requires that in order to qualify as a violation of the law, the victim has to be identifiable either by their name or some number that would identify them.

Some have said the law won’t really curb the behavior because the definition is highly restrictive. Senate backers of the bill said they wanted to amend it before it reached the governor’s desk, but then the House adjourned early, which meant further amendments weren’t possible. Still, sponsors say they are Ok with this version for now, which can always be amended or, as they say, “cleaned up” later. That could well mean broadening the definition of what qualifies as an offense under the proposal.

The bill does say an image qualifies even if the image was produced with consent, posting it can violate the law where victim had a reasonable expectation of believing those images would remain private.

This measure in particular gained traction after the case last year of a 20-year-old university student whose ex-boyfriend posted numerous sexually compromising images of her to a website after she gave information to police about a robbery in which he had suspected involvement.

But even though there was no law at that point under which to charge him, this is not to say authorities never have any options. Take for example the case of a Miami Beach man who was arrested earlier this year on multiple felony charges after he reportedly attempted to spread explicit images of a woman, now in her 20s, that were taken when she was 16. He was subsequently charged with numerous counts of child pornography, video voyeurism and cyberstalking.

A conviction in a case like this can have serious repercussions on a defendant’s life and freedom. That’s why it’s imperative to contact an experienced defense lawyer for advice on how best to proceed.

Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:
Revenge porn bill headed to Scott’s desk, April 29, 2015, By Sean Rossman, Tallahassee Democrat
More Blog Entries:
Pulecia v. Florida – Probation Term Successfully Challenged, April 23, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog