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Revenge Porn

On June 17, 2015, Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1135, the Relationship Privacy Act (the “RPA”). The RPA, better known as Revenge Porn laws, went into effect on September 1, 2015. Revenge porn is the posting of explicit pictures or videos of a person without their consent. This type of behavior usually occurs after a relationship has ended and the explicit material ends up on the web. Victims of revenge porn are then faced with a series of consequences such as humiliation, harassment, sexual assault, and even losing their jobs.

In an effort to combat these issues, Texas has enacted laws criminalizing the illegal dissemination of explicit pictures or videos and it is giving victims the option to seek a civil cause of action. The RPA added Chapter 98B to the Civil Practice and Remedies Code and Section 21.16 to the Penal Code.

Criminal Consequences

Under Section 21.16 of the Penal Code, a person commits a Class A Misdemeanor offense if:

(1) without the effective consent of the depicted person, the person intentionally discloses visual material depicting another person with the person's intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual conduct;

(2) the visual material was obtained by the person or created under circumstances in which the depicted person had a reasonable expectation that the visual material would remain private;

(3) the disclosure of the visual material causes harm to the depicted person; and

(4) the disclosure of the visual material reveals the identity of the depicted person in any manner, including through:

(A) any accompanying or subsequent information or material related to the visual material; or

(B) information or material provided by a third party in response to the disclosure of the visual material.

(c) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally threatens to disclose, without the consent of the depicted person, visual material depicting another person with the person's intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual conduct and the actor makes the threat to obtain a benefit:

(1) in return for not making the disclosure; or

2) in connection with the threatened disclosure.

(d) A person commits an offense if, knowing the character and content of the visual material, the person promotes visual material described by Subsection (b) on an Internet website or other forum for publication that is owned or operated by the person.

A Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in the county jail and/or a fine not to exceed $4,000.

Civil Consequences

Under Chapter 98B of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the elements are exactly the same as the Penal Code, the only difference is that if you are found to be liable the victim can seek monetary damages. Damages include actual damages, mental anguish, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees. The court can also issue a temporary restraining order or an injunction to restrain and prevent the disclosure or promotion of the intimate visual material.

As you can see, Texas is doing something to punish individuals for releasing pictures of their exes on the web. Some may think that just because it is only a misdemeanor it is no big deal but that’s not true. A conviction of a Class A Misdemeanor can be used to enhance punishment on another crime in the future. If you have been charged with a revenge porn crime, it is important you contact an experienced attorney immediately to investigate your case and help you understand your rights.

The lawyers at the Law Office of Patrick J McLain, PLLC can help defend you against various crimes and will fight vigorously to protect your legal rights. You can call us 24/7 by calling (214) 238-9392 or visit our law office at 900 Jackson Street, Suite 635 Dallas, Texas 75202. Don’t wait before it is too late!