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What is Revenge Porn in NYC?

Revenge Porn involves allegations of the dissemination of sexually explicit images without consent, which is also called Nonconsensual Pornography. A common Revenge Porn allegation involves situations where a person consented to a photograph or video, Intimate Images, and believed that the person expected that it would remain private.

The person accused of Revenge Porn is most commonly a former significant other, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife. The most serious types of Revenge Porn involve allegations that Intimate Images, naked photographs or videos of Sexual Conduct were uploaded to a website where it can be viewed and shared. However, Revenge Porn allegations can stem from the mere texting of Intimate Images

A related issue known as Sextortion is on the rise. Sextortion involves the threat to share Intimate Content of a person, whether a naked photo or video of a sex act, and the request for money in return. The setting for Sextortion is often a dating app or social media where on person uses a fake identity to persuade a person to perform sexual acts that are recorded. In some cases the person who created the fake identity claims to be a minor, which may or may not turn out to be true.

What Every Victim of Revenge Porn Should Do Immediately

Screenshots, screenshots, screenshots. As painful as the experience of Revenge Porn may be, it is important for victims to preserve as much as evidence as possible. The easiest way to accomplish the preservation of evidence is by screenshots of Intimate Images.

The communications surrounding Revenger Porn are equally important to preserve, whether a threat or a boast about the publication or dissemination of an Intimate Image in a text message, direct message or social media post. Equally important to pursuing a case of Revenge Porn is the URL or website address where any content or context exists which begins with “http://” or “https://”   The evidence collecting and obtained about a case of Revenge Porn is important in pursuing a lawsuit for Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image.

New York’s Revenge Porn Law

New York Revenge Porn AttorneyToday, only a handful of states do not have Revenge Porn charges or Nonconsensual Pornography laws. New York’s Revenge Porn Law was passed in 2019.

In an era of increased text messaging, social networking, and emailing, people in intimate relationships sometimes share pictures with each other, some of which may be sexually explicit in nature. However, recipients of these images do not always keep the images within the confines of an intimate relationship, and have the ability to widely disseminate the photos on the Internet.

The unlawful dissemination and publication of such intimate images, also known as “Revenge Porn” is often provided to Internet websites, and features photos sometimes accompanied by disparaging descriptions and identifying details, such as where the victims live and work, as well as links to their social network pages.

Posting these photographs online is damaging to the reputations of the victims. These photographs have extensive negative effects, including destroying future intimate relationships and educational and employment opportunities. Victims are routinely threatened with sexual assault, stalked, harassed, or fired from jobs.

When New York’s Revenge Porn Law was created both a new crime and a right to file a civil lawsuit was added to the law. The crime is Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image, Penal Law Section 245.15. The right to file a lawsuit, is Private Right of Action For Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image, Civil Rights Law Section 52-b.

Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image Charges Explained

Under Penal Law Section 245.15, Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image is a class A misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is 1 year in year. Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image charges apply when

  • With intent to cause harm to the emotional, financial or physical welfare of another person, he or she intentionally disseminates or publishes a still or video image of such other person, who is identifiable from the still or video image itself or from information displayed in connection with the still or video image, without such other person’s consent, which depicts:
    • An unclothed or exposed intimate part of such other person; or
    • Such other person engaging in Sexual Conduct with another person; and
  • Such still or video image was taken under circumstances when the person depicted had a reasonable expectation that the image would remain private and the actor knew or reasonably should have known the person depicted intended for the still or video image to remain private, regardless of whether the actor was present when the still or video image was taken.

There are 5 terms that require further definition: Sexual Conduct; Sexual Contact; Intimate Part; Disseminate and Publish. Each of these terms has a broad definition.

Sexual Conduct is defined in Penal Law Section 130.00(10) as “sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct, anal sexual conduct, aggravated sexual contact, or Sexual Contact.” The definition of Sexual Conduct includes the term Sexual Contact, which is defined in Penal Law Section 130.00(3), as “any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of either party.

It includes the touching of the actor by the victim, as well as the touching of the victim by the actor, whether directly or through clothing, as well as the emission of ejaculate by the actor upon any part of the victim, clothed or unclothed.” Intimate Part is defined in Penal Law Section 245.15 as “the naked genitals, pubic area, anus or female nipple of the person.”

Finally, the terms of Disseminate and Publish are borrowed New York’s Unlawful Surveillance charges. Both terms, like the other definitions that apply to Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image charges have board meanings. In the simplest terms Disseminate means to another person by any means and Publish means posting on the Internet.

Disseminate, Penal Law Section 250.40(5) means to give, provide, lend, deliver, mail, send, forward, transfer or transmit, electronically or otherwise to another person.” Both a text message or social media direct message would satisfy the definition.

Publish, Penal Law Section 250.40(6), has several definitions. First to “post, present, display, exhibit, circulate, advertise or allows access, electronically or otherwise, so as to make an image or images available to the public.” That includes posting on a social media site that allows explicit content or any other website.

The definition also includes sending the image to another person so it will be posted or made public: to “Disseminate with the intent that an image or images be posted, presented, displayed, exhibited, circulated, advertised or made accessible, electronically or otherwise and to make such image or images available to the public.”

Finally, Publish also means Disseminate, “with the intent that such image or images be disseminated to 10 or more persons” or “with the intent that such images be sold by another person.”

As a class A misdemeanor, Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image charges are punished by a maximum of 1 year in jail. Depending on the facts and the degree of the allegations of the Dissemination of the Intimate Image or Images in question, it is possible to obtain a plea bargain to a non-criminal outcome. Every case is different and depends on the specific allegations.

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Revenge Porn Lawsuits in New York

New York’s Revenge Porn Law also creates a private right of action, legalese for a lawsuit, for victims of Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image. In other words, people can file a Revenge Porn lawsuit under New York’s law.

Under Civil Rights Law Section 52-b a person can if sue another person for disseminating or publishing a photograph or video without their consent that contains nudity or a sexual act without their consent or threatening to disseminate or to publish a photograph or video that contains nudity or a sexual act.

A person can sue For Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image even if the photograph or video that contains nudity or a sexual act was taken or recorded with a person’s consent, as long as a person had a reasonable expectation that the photograph or video would remain private.

If the photograph or video containing nudity or a sexual act was taken without a person’s consent, then there could be charges of Unlawful Surveillance in the Second Degree in violation of Penal Law Section 250.45.

NYC’s Revenge Porn Lawsuits Explained

In New York, the Private Right of Action For Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image is listed under Civil Rights Law Section 52-b(1), which states:

  • Any person depicted in a still or video image, regardless of whether or not the original still or video image was consensually obtained, shall have a cause of action against an individual who, for the purpose of harassing, annoying or alarming such person, disseminated or published, or threatened to disseminate or publish, such still or video image, where such image:
    • Was taken when such person had a reasonable expectation that the image would remain private and depicts:
      • An unclothed or exposed intimate part of such person; or
      • Such person engaging in Sexual Conduct with another person; and
    • Was disseminated or published, or threatened to be disseminated or published, without the consent of such person.

A person who sues under the Private Right of Action For Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image can obtain injunctive relief, punitive damages, compensatory damages and reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees. The statute of limitations for an Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image lawsuit is either 3 years from the date of the dissemination or publication of the image in question, or 1 year from the date a person discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the dissemination or publication of such image, whichever is later.

That means if a person doesn’t discover that a photograph or video that contains nudity or a sexual act for more than 3 years, then he or she has 1 year to file a lawsuit, provided that a person should not have reasonably discovered the content earlier.

Revenge Porn Lawsuits Against Websites for Removal of Intimate Images

Revenge Porn Lawyer NYCIn addition to the right to sue for Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image, New York also allows lawsuits against websites and hosts companies to remove Nonconsensual Pornography, photographs and videos containing nudity or a sexual act. There are 2 limitations on such lawsuits. First, the person who sues must be a resident of New York. Second, the  Nonconsensual Pornography must be viewable from within New York.

The provision for a Court Order for Website Removal is listed in Civil Rights Law 52-b(4) and states:

Any person depicted in a still or video image that depicts an unclothed or exposed intimate part of such person, or such person engaging in sexual with another person, which is disseminated or published without the consent of such person and where such person had a reasonable expectation that the image would remain private, may maintain an action or special proceeding for a court order to require any website that is subject to personal jurisdiction to permanently remove such still or video image; any such court order granted pursuant to this subdivision may direct removal only as to images that are reasonably within such website’s control.

A lawsuit to obtain permanent removal of  Nonconsensual Pornography applies to: “Any website that hosts or transmits a still or video image, viewable [in New York State], taken under circumstances where the person depicted had a reasonable expectation that the image would remain private, which depicts:

  • An unclothed or exposed intimate part of a resident of New York; or
  • A resident of New York engaging in Sexual Conduct with another person; and

The statute of limitations for a Court Order for Website Removal is the same as the statute of limitations for the Private Right of Action For Unlawful Dissemination or Publication of an Intimate Image, 3 years for the date of dissemination or publication, or 1 year from the date of discovery, whichever is later.

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Hiring a New York City Revenge Porn Lawyer

The criminal justice system is complex and can be intimidating and confusing, especially in New York. Hiring the right New York Revenge Porn attorney is crucial in achieving the best possible outcome of your Revenge Porn case.

The best New York City lawyer for Revenge Porn is experienced, aggressive and knowledgeable. As a former prosecutor in New York, I have the experience and knowledge from both prosecuting Sex Crimes on behalf of victims and complaining witnesses, and aggressively defending people against Sex Crimes charges in New York.

Contact The Law Firm of Andrew M. Stengel

Contact us via the live chat below, through our contact form here, or call us at  (212) 634-9222. Initial consultations are free and confidential, and you will speak with Andrew M. Stengel directly.

Our offices are located at 11 Broadway, Suite 615, New York, NY 10004, and we handle cases throughout New York City, Nassau, Westchester and the surrounding counties.

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