Los Angeles “Revenge Porn” – Penal Code Section 647(J)(4) PC

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In 2013, the California legislature enacted Penal Code Section 647(j)(4) PC which makes it a criminal offense to disseminate what is often referred to as “revenge porn” or “nonconsensual pornography.” With the advent of smartphones, more and more people have easy access to high definition cameras and video recorders. Many people choose to record intimate sex acts and this recording many be consensual at the time the video or photo is taken. However, in many cases the relationship may sour and one party may send out the video or photo in order to embarrass or shame his or her partner. In order to catch up with technology, the California legislature added Penal Code Section 647(j)(4) PC in order to prevent and criminalize this type of behavior.

Under California Penal Code Section 647(j)(4) PC, “any person who intentionally distributes the image of the intimate body part or body parts of another identifiable person, or an image of the person depicted engaged in an act of sexual intercourse, sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration, or an image of masturbation by the person depicted or in which the person depicted participates, under circumstances in which the persons agree or understand that the image shall remain private, the person distributing the image knows or should know that distribution of the image will cause serious emotional distress, and the person depicted suffers that distress” is guilty of a disorderly conduct offense.

Penal Code Section 647(j)(4) PC would not apply in several contexts. The law does not cover “selfies,” meaning that if the victim makes the recording of himself or herself, the law would not apply. The law also only applies to individual who actually make the recording. It would not apply to anyone else who redistributes or disseminates the recording once it has been sent out. This law would not apply to “revenge porn” websites which prominently feature photos and videos sent to them by individuals. The law also does not apply to hackers or other third parties who access and obtain photos or videos by hacking into someone’s computer or phone and then disseminating the information. While hackers would not be criminally liable under California Penal Code Section 647(j)(4), they could still be charged with unauthorized computer access under California Penal Code Section 502(c) PC or other computer crimes.

It is important to note that the law only applies in circumstances where the parties have agreed or understood that the image was to remain private. The law may apply where the victim never consented to being recorded and was completely unaware that he or she was being recorded. However, where the victim knew that he or she was being recorded, it may be difficult to prove that parties understood that the images or recordings were to remain private.

In addition, the law only applies where the prosecution can prove that the defendant intended to cause the victim to suffer serious emotional distress and the victim did, in fact, suffer such distress. Proving the defendant’s intent may be difficult for the prosecution absent a direct admission from the defendant or other similar evidence.

The new “revenge porn” law is similar to the law prohibiting invasion of privacy under California Penal Code Section 647(j) PC. Both are misdemeanor offenses and those convicted can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

If you have been charged with violating the “revenge porn” law or are under investigation for this offense, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly effective at defending clients charged with offenses of this nature.

For more information about Los Angeles “revenge porn,” contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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