Law Offices of Michael T. Nolan, Jr.

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Revenge may be sweet, unless it is a crime

Some say revenge is sweet. And that may apply when the revenge is against a former spouse or lover when the relationship ends. But in New Jersey, that revenge can result in criminal charges when it involves posting "revenge porn," or compromising photos, online without the consent of the person in the pictures.

It may sound like something that comes from the world of the Kardashians and other celebrities, but in fact statistics show that one in 10 people have at least threatened to post such photos. Sixty percent of those who have made the threats have carried them out by actually posting the photos.

But factions are divided on whether this should actually be considered a crime. The American Civil Liberties Union contends that these affronts should be addressed in a civil lawsuit rather than a criminal trial. But advocates of making the behavior a crime say that civil trials require proof of infringement, libel or false light, which are high thresholds to meet. One woman whose daughter was a victim of revenge porn adds that civil trials often require putting the victim’s personal details on the record, making them public to anyone who wants to read the trial transcript, leading to possible long-term consequences.

Sometimes the act isn’t even personal. If someone’s computer is hacked and he or she has personal photos of this nature on it that had never even been shared with anyone else, the hacker can distribute them.

The woman who fought for her daughter’s rights also notes that some offenders take the face of the victim and post it on another nude body. And once photos are on the Internet, it is difficult to undo the damage.

In addition to New Jersey, more than 15 other states have either already outlawed revenge porn or are currently considering similar legislation. Even if the photos were consensual at the time they were taken, making them public after a relationship can result in serious charges in New Jersey. Those in New Jersey are accused of posting these photos as an act of revenge should be aware that they could face prosecution; those who face criminal charges for any crime in New Jersey should seek criminal defense counsel and ensure they understand their rights.

Source: Columbia Chronicle, “Revenge porn could become criminal,” March 10, 2014

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