What You Need to Know About the Oklahoma Revenge Porn Law

Criminal Liability for Invasion of Privacy

Smartphones may have changed our lives for the better in many ways, but these devices have created new problems as well. Today, most people have a combined camera and communications device with them in their bedrooms at all times. It has become quite popular for people to take intimate photographs and share them with their partners.

Unfortunately, trust sometimes fades from a once trusting partnership. When that happens, those pictures shared with a lover in private may be abused, but there is now an Oklahoma revenge porn law to try to stop it.

While the new law could cause anyone considering revenge porn reason to reconsider an ill conceived plan, the law itself can also become a tool of abuse. Perhaps more often, prosecutors may charge crimes that don’t match the facts.

A person wrongly accused of posing revenge porn after someone allowed them to share images, or who is accused for images someone else posted needs a criminal defense attorney to keep this embarrassing accusation from becoming a scarlet-letter on their criminal record.

What is Revenge Porn?

Revenge porn is the posting of revealing or sexually explicit images or videos of a person on the internet without their consent, usually by a former sexual partner, in order to cause distress or embarrassment.

Organizations that are working to fight against this type of exploitation actually prefer the term “nonconsensual pornography” or NCP, because many perpetrators are not motivated by revenge at all. Some people just enjoy the sick game of stealing and sharing explicit pictures. This behavior was not really possible until the early 2000s where online groups and sites like YouTube allowed users to easily upload and share pictures and videos.

Most people recognize it is not right for someone to upload nude pictures without consent, but in many places it can be difficult to find a particular law that bans misappropriation of intimate personal photos. When victims are children child pornography laws could apply. Hacking or identity theft can be a crime if a person intrudes on a computer to get someone else’s intimate images.

Some states have laws against unlawful surveillance and sharing images obtained unlawfully, but this does not always work because revenge porn is often initially shared willingly between partners. Extortion, stalking, harassment, and domestic violence laws can be triggered if the images are released or threatened to be released to have those impacts on the victim. These laws will usually not fit when images are uploaded to the internet without even telling the victim, though.

Legislatures around the nation, including in Oklahoma, concluded specific laws were probably needed to combat revenge porn. Yet as many commentators have pointed out, it can also be hard for lawmakers to define exactly what revenge porn is.

For example, Congressman Anthony Weiner sent intimate photographs to young women on the internet, and one of the women leaked some of his photographs to the media. Under some proposed revenge porn laws the woman that leaked the photo could be prosecuted. Some of the more aggressive proposals could theoretically have punished journalists that shared copies of the pictures. So building a law to stop revenge porn is no easy feat.

Oklahoma Takes Action in 2016

The Oklahoma revenge porn effort was led largely by Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City), who said “Our statutes often don’t contemplate modern life, and this is one of those situations.”

Holt’s effort to end revenge porn was inspired in large part by young Oklahoman named Heavin Taylor whose ex-boyfriend posted private photographs of her online along with some of her personal information. She has said she gets messages from strange men about the photos on a daily basis. The bill was eventually passed unanimously by both the state House and Senate. It was signed by Gov. Mary Fallon (R) in May 2016 and went into effect in November of that year. Police have been active in using the law, for example the Cleveland County police reported an arrest in 2017.

The Oklahoma revenge porn law bans the “nonconsensual dissemination of private images” and imposes punishments of up to a $1,000 fine or one year in prison. It applies only if the image (which could be a photo or video) is of a person who is more than 18 years old, identifiable, and is engaged in sex or has intimate body parts exposed. So this may not stop someone from posting a private photo but covering up the faces, for example.

The law is also limited to instances where the photos or videos are are shared to “harass, intimidate or coerce” someone. The person sharing the images is only guilty if they should have known the images were intended to be private and there was no consent to share them further.

Because Oklahoma considers intent to be an element of unlawful dissemination of private images, a person who shares images without intending to cause harm may escape liability.

Of note, the Oklahoma revenge porn law also gives the courts the authority to order a person to remove revenge porn images from the internet. A person who has been victimized by revenge porn or who may be contemplating revenge porn should also consider that there may be opportunities to sue in civil court as well as pursuing criminal prosecution of a person accused of publishing revenge porn.

Are You a Victim of Revenge Porn or Wrongfully Accused?

The Wirth Law Office is a leading personal injury and criminal defense firm operating throughout Northeast Oklahoma. If you think you have been a victim of revenge porn, you may have a legal claim against the perpetrator or may be able to use the law to get the images taken down.

If you have been entangled in the new law a Tulsa criminal attorney at Wirth Law Office can help you defend your legal rights. Call (918) 879-1681 for a free consultation or submit a question through this website.

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