Understanding Pennsylvania’s revenge porn law

Pennsylvania residents should understand the terms of the state’s new revenge porn law as well as the potential penalties that alleged violators can face.

In 2015, Pennsylvania joined several other states in criminalizing the posting of so-called revenge porn. This content is generally defined as any sexually explicit image posted with the intent of causing the subject distress. People who have been accused of sharing revenge porn in Colmar or other parts of Pennsylvania can now face steep consequences for this alleged Internet sex crime. This makes understanding the scope of the new law important for most people in Pennsylvania.

What is considered revenge porn?

According to The Pittsburg Tribune-Review, under the current law, explicit content that features an ex-partner can be considered revenge porn. However, the content must be posted without the subject's consent and with malicious intent, such as harassing or humiliating the subject. Anyone who shares this type of content with others or posts it online may be charged with violating the state's revenge porn laws.

What are the potential penalties?

The penalties for violating this law vary depending on whether the person who appears in the content is a minor. If alleged revenge porn features an adult, the person who posted or shared it may be punished with a $5,000 fine and up to one year in prison. If the subject is a minor, the person who shared the content may face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

People accused of violating the state's revenge porn law may also face other charges. For instance, a Pennsylvania man who allegedly sent nude photos of his ex-girlfriend to her new boyfriend was arrested for violating the revenge porn law, according to The Patriot-News. He was also charged with harassment, trespassing and stalking. As a broader example, people who share materials featuring minors could also be charged with related offenses, such as possession of child pornography.

Can these charges be challenged?

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review explains that there are a few grounds for challenging charges relating to revenge porn. First, content is not considered revenge porn if it does not feature a former intimate partner. Therefore, a person may contest these charges by showing that the subject of the content doesn't meet these criteria. Second, people who have shared alleged revenge porn can make the case that they lacked malicious intent. As an example, a person could make explicit materials public for artistic or economic reasons, without necessarily intending to cause harm.

It is important to note that these potential defenses do not necessarily protect a person against related criminal charges. Therefore, anyone who has been accused of any offense involving pornography or other alleged sex crimes should consider seeking legal advice. An attorney may be able to help a person review the relevant laws and devise a legal strategy that is appropriate given the situation.