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C.G.S. § 53a-189c - Revenge Porn

Revenge Porn Laws in Connecticut

Girl shocked staring at computer In 2015 the Connecticut legislature enacted C.G.S. § 53a-189c, which makes it a criminal misdemeanor to disseminate revenge porn. Smartphone technology has put a high definition camera and video recorder in just about everyone's pocket. Many couples have engaged in the consensual sharing of nude photos or videos of sex acts. In some situations, when the relationship ends, one party may disseminate the images or videos in an attempt to shame or embarrass the other party.

Posing an image on Facebook or Snapchat, emailing it, texting it to someone are all forms of dissemination. What makes it a crime in Connecticut is when the image is disseminated without the consent of the victim, and it causes harm. In revenge porn cases, the picture or video was initially taken with the knowledge of the victim but not with the consent to disseminate it to others. When intimate photographs and videos are taken without the knowledge of the victim, that is the more severe crime of voyeurism, which is a felony and does not require dissemination.

The dissemination of revenge porn can expose you to both criminal and civil liability. Victims of revenge porn have won multi-million-dollar civil lawsuits against people who posted images of them online.

We have seen some clients charged with multiple counts of revenge porn for a single incident. Some arresting agencies charge defendants with a separate count for each and every image that is disseminated online. In these situations, the jail time exposure can add up quickly, so it is essential to speak with an experienced Connecticut criminal defense lawyer about defense options.

Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-189c - Unlawful Dissemination of an Intimate Image - Elements of the Crime Which Must be Established by The Prosecutor

To be convicted of revenge porn in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-189c, the state's attorney has to prove the following elements of the crime:

  1. The accused intentionally disseminates by electronic or other means;
  2. A photograph, film, videotape or other recorded image of:
    1. The genitals, pubic area or buttocks of another person or the female breast below the top of the nipple;
    2. Another person engaged in sexual intercourse
  3. Without the consent of the other person;
  4. Knowing that the other person understood that the image would not be so disseminated; and
  5. The victim suffers harm as a result of the dissemination.
Statutory Exceptions C.G.S. § 53a-189c(b)

The revenge porn statute expressly does not apply to three specific circumstances:

  1. Situations where the image of the victim was taken while exposing themselves or having sex in a public place or commercial setting;
  2. Any image or video in which the victim is not clearly identifiable; or
  3. Where dissemination serves the public interest (such as complying with a lawful subpoena).
Examples

A man's girlfriend breaks up with him. Enraged, the man creates a fake pornography website using intimate photos that he took of the woman during their relationship. The man could be convicted of a violation of C.G.S § 53a-189c because the photos used in the website's creation were used without the consent of the victim and clearly identified her.

A man takes a photo of his face next to his girlfriend's buttocks. Her face is not visible in the photo. A year later the girl breaks up with the man, and he is very upset. The man posts the picture of the woman's buttocks with his face on Facebook and Snapchat in an attempt to get revenge. The man could not be convicted for a violation of C.G.S. § 53a-189c because the woman was not clearly identifiable in the photo. If hypothetically, the woman had a unique tattoo on her buttocks with her name that clearly identified her, then the man could be prosecuted for revenge porn.

Related Offenses

Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-189b - Disseminating Voyeuristic Material

Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-183 - Harassment in the Second Degree

Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-181d - Stalking in the Second Degree

Defenses to Revenge Porn Allegations

Just because someone is charged with a crime does not mean that they are guilty. The state has the burden to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In the case of revenge porn, the statute is limited in scope, and not all intimate image distribution is illegal under Connecticut's revenge porn statute.

Lack of Intent

The revenge porn statute requires that the accused acted intentionally. The state has the burden to prove intent. In many cases, it is possible to post a photo or video to the internet accidentally. It is not a crime to post an intimate photo on the internet or text it to someone if it was accidental.

No Harm to the Victim

The way that the revenge porn statute is drafted in Connecticut, the state is required to prove that the victim suffered harm as a result of the dissemination. For example, what harm could someone suffer from a Snapchat post that disappears? The statute requires a showing of harm, and it is an essential element of the crime that is often overlooked by the police.

Proof that the Victim Understood that the Material Would not be Disseminated

In many cases, our clients are prosecuted for revenge porn for disseminating intimate photos. Interestingly, there is often little discussion of the circumstances under which the victim allowed themselves to be photographed or videotaped. The statute requires proof that the victim "understood that the image would not be so disseminated." In many situations, it is difficult, if not impossible, for the state to prove what the parties discussed or intended when an image was sometimes taken years before.

The Victim is Not Clearly Identified in the Image or Video

We have seen many situations where very intimate photos and videos are disseminated widely of a victim that upset the victim, but the victim's face is not shown. Many times, photos only show images of intimate body parts and no face. In those situations, it is not illegal to disseminate these photos. Despite how upsetting the dissemination of such images may be, it is not unlawful in Connecticut because our revenge porn statute requires that the photos clearly identify the victim.

Contact a Revenge Porn Attorney Today!

We provide free initial consultations. We have 25 years of experience dealing with the defense of revenge porn allegations throughout the State of Connecticut. Working with an experienced Connecticut revenge porn lawyer can make a difference in the outcome of your case.

Our rates are reasonable, and we offer payment plans as needed. Call Attorney Friedman at (203) 357-5555 to schedule your free initial consultation. We are available 24/7. Or you can contact us online for a prompt response.

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