• September 20, 2021
  • Levoritz Law Group
  • Family Law

Distribution of Intimate Images Without Consent

What Should I Do When Sexually Explicit Emails and Texts I Sent Are Being Used to Harass Me?

It is not uncommon for partners to share sexually provocative and explicit texts and emails through a variety of devices and platforms. Unfortunately, some partners will use these messages later to harass their ex-lovers through distribution of those intimate images without consent. Such an action is colloquially known as “revenge porn.” When this happens, there are steps you can take to fight back.

Preserve Evidence

How to Hold Your Ex Accountable for Revenge Porn

One way to hold an ex-partner accountable for any harassing or abusive conduct is to preserve the evidence. It may be extremely uncomfortable, but it is a crucial part of the process. If an abuser posts something sexualy explicit or offensive to social media or other platforms, you should take a screenshot of the post that includes the site’s URL. Preserving the abusive or harassing content, or other non-consensual explicit posts, is critical to connect the posted content to the abuser. You can then present the evidence to the Criminal Court, Family Court, Civil Court, and other forums, to hold your abuser accountable for distribution of the images without your consent.

It is advisable to seek out the assistance of a lawyer to help you preserve evidence of a former partner’s abusive behavior related to distribution of intimate images.

Restore Your Privacy

How to Get Revenge Porn Removed

Once you have successfully gathered evidence of your former partner’s harassment or abusive behavior online, you can then work to get the explicit or abusive content removed from the particular social media platform or other online forums. Your attorney can help you contact the multitude of service providers — such as, an internet service provider (e.g., Verizon or Spectrum), social media platform (e.g., Facebook), search engine (e.g., Google), a web site host or other type of online platform — to demand that each take down any sexually explicit images, videos, or records of texts and emails that were shared online without your consent.

Using the DMCA Takedown Process

The removal of the offensive, harassing or abusive content from these platforms is possible because you are depicted in the content. If you choose to not seek help from an attorney, you may want to look into a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) called the DMCA Takedown process. It can be used to demand the removal of the content on the basis of a copyright infringement.

The DMCA Takedown process is a tool to demand that service providers and website owners remove content that you are depicted in.

You can do so under the theory that you own the copyright to the published content you appear in and that the content was posted to the internet without your permission. Therefore, this unauthorized posting infringes on your copyright to the content. An attorney who has experience with this process can ensure it is done correctly.

Is it Illegal to Share Intimate Pictures Without Consent?

Posting and sharing sexually explicit or provocative content without your permission and against your will is considered a criminal act. Fortunately, New York has already criminalized and codified revenge porn. This, and other related offenses, as the criminal code states, can be the foundation of a strong prosecution that can ultimately lead to the arrest of your abuser.

Is Sextortion a Crime?

Sextortion” is a colloquial term similar to revenge porn. What should a victim of sextortion do? Victims can take refuge in the criminal justice system to help them in their fight against sextortion and other related cyberabuse. Moreover, although the law allows complainants to file charges with the New York Police Department or any county police without assistance, it is highly recommended that you obtain a lawyer who can properly represent your case in the criminal context. Sextortion is a crime, but the law doesn’t use that term. With an attorney’s expertise, your case can be handled professionally and can be kept out of the public notice.

What Charges Will My Harasser Possibly Face?

On Sextortion and Blackmail

Listed below are the possible criminal charges your harasser may face.

Although there is no crime recognized as “Sextortion,” extortion is codified in Penal Law 155.05(2)(e). Per the provisions of Penal Law 155.30(6), Grand Larceny, the fourth degree, is already the lowest of these crimes and is nevertheless considered a class “E” felony.

The perpetrator could face up to four, seven, fifteen, or even twenty-five years in prison, depending on the degree of the crime.

Furthermore, coercion laws protect people from being forced to, or not to, behave in a way to which they are legally entitled. Depending on what your abuser demands in exchange for the return of your intimate images, videos, or texts, if it’s without your consent, they are violating the class “A” misdemeanor or class “D” felony under Penal Law 135.60 and 135.65 and may face a year and up to seven years in prison.

Revenge Porn is the Unlawful Disclosure of an Intimate Image

New York Laws Related to Revenge Porn

Penal Law § 245.15, New York’s Revenge Porn Law enacted in 2019, provides it is a class A misdemeanor for the unlawful dissemination or publication of intimate images. It covers situations where the image is taken with the person’s consent but is disseminated without their consent.  An individual is guilty of this crime when that person intends to cause the requisite harm to the person depicted in the image and subsequently intentionally disseminates or publishes an image or video of an “intimate part” of that person or of that person engaging in sexual conduct.

These crimes may not be felonies, but the provisions of New York’s Revenge Porn Law enable the prosecution of misdemeanors as well as allowing victims to bring claims against anyone who breaches their trust, even if the person represented has initially consented to a sexual recording. The behavior of your harasser is still considered unlawful, and your abuser will face a lawsuit not only if he or she uploads pictures that will cause you harm and do so without your permission, but also if they threaten to do the same.

What If the Images Were Taken Without My Consent?

Further possible criminal charges if you were unaware that photographs were being taken of you include Penal Law 250.55 and 250.60, Dissemination of an Unlawful Surveillance Image, a potential misdemeanor or felony crime, given that the photographs uploaded were produced without your permission, in violation of Criminal Law 250.45 or 250.50, Unlawful Surveillance. While the law is more specific in its language, if a person records you without consent while having intercourse or takes intimate images of your body and does so for money, amusement, or sexual excitement, he or she will face up to a year in prison.

The Bottom Line

Laws Related to Distribution of Intimate Images Without Your Consent Are Complex

Always be careful when sharing intimate images, because it is possible they may be used against you. When it reaches the extent that you might need to file charges for your safety and privacy, it is best to seek legal advice and representation to assist you with the process.

If the situation arises, there are ways to navigate it. Getting a professional to provide you with legal assistance is highly advised. Look for an experienced attorney who is familiar with the existing laws and has the knowledge to uphold and preserve your rights.

If you believe you are a victim of revenge porn or sextortion, our team at The Levoritz Law Firm can help. We understand how much this behavior can disrupt your life, your professional reputation, and your relationships. We will aggressively pursue the steps necessary to get it taken down, as well as pursuing legal action.

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