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Could Revenge Porn Laws Be Considered Unconstitutional?

Under California Penal Code Section 647(j)(4)PC, it is illegal for a person to distribute images that depict another individual involved in a sexual act, knowing that such dissemination will cause emotional distress to the alleged victim. A person convicted of this offense could be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail and face up to $1,000 in fines. Posting or sending explicit images of others, which is often referred to as revenge porn or sextortion, is prohibited in 45 states, but recently such restrictions have come under fire for being unconstitutional.

Freedom of Expression

The Constitution guarantees individuals the freedom to express themselves, even if their speech includes offensive material. However, certain types of utterances are limited, such as threats and private information. When the government restricts citizens’ rights, it must do so to serve its interests and it can’t be such that it severely limits lawful guarantees.

In today’s digital age, new forms of expression are ever-emerging, creating unique challenges in the legal system as laws were created long before phones and social media were around. Trying to keep statutes current with society’s technological changes and advancements requires a delicate balance of protecting a citizen’s rights while also ensuring the safety of others.

The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide on the constitutionality of revenge porn laws. Until it does, each state must determine whether the local statutes infringe on a person’s rights.

California’s revenge porn laws have so far stood the test of public scrutiny, which is mainly because the statute explicitly states that a person must upload an explicit image knowing “that distribution…will cause serious emotional distress, and the person depicted suffers distress.” Many other states do not have such clauses, and court decisions involving these types of offenses have been appealed, arguing that the law is unconstitutional.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC Today

Although the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, California laws may restrict that right. Our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience and will work together to thoroughly review your case and ensure your rights are protected. We know how to fight charges for white-collar crimes such as sending explicit images through electronic communication, and we will work toward getting your charges reduced or dismissed.

For attentive and aggressive legal representation, call us at (949) 251-0330 or contact us online.