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Revenge Porn Laws in California - Penal Code 647(J)(4) PC

Review of the Crime of PC 647(J)(4) Revenge Porn

California Penal Code 647(j)(4) makes it a crime post sexually explicit images or videos of someone online, without consent, which causes the victim to suffer serious emotional distress.

Revenge Porn Laws in California - Penal Code 647(J)(4) PC
Revenge porn laws prohibit posting sexual related pictures or videos online to cause a victim distress.

This 2013 statue was signed into law as the revenge porn bill under Senate Bill 255 (SB 255).

This sex crime offense often occurs in a situation where the initial sexual images or videos were consensual at that time, but after the relationship ended, one partner decides to embarrass the other by posting intimate images on the internet.

In other words, “revenge porn” is when a disgruntled ex-lover or person who possesses intimate pictures or videos of another person shows them to others or makes them publicly available. 

In the past, the spread of and access to revenge porn in California was less challenging to control due to limited technology and internet accessibility.

However, with the advent of smartphones and recording devices, it is now easier for videos and pictures to end up in the wrong hands and for defendants to receive a criminal charge for their distribution.

Penal Code 647(j)(4) revenge porn law is closely related to California PC 647(j) invasion of privacy laws. Both crimes are a misdemeanor offense.

Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing more detailed information below.

Defining PC 647(J)(4) Revenge Porn

Revenge porn is considered non-consensual pornography. The use of fear and intimidation by spreading another person's sexually explicit image/video is illegal and is punishable by jail time.

California Penal Code Section 647 (j)(4) protects victims of revenge porn by making it illegal to distribute sexually-explicit pictures or videos of a person to others. It's defined in as:

  • “anyone who intentionally distributes an image of the intimate body part or depicting them in sexual intercourse, oral copulation, sodomy, sexual penetration, or masturbation, under circumstances in which they understand that the image shall remain private, the person distributing the image knows or should know distribution of the image will cause serious emotional distress, and the person depicted suffers that distress.”

This means that any person who intentionally distributes an image or video of another person's intimate body parts or them engaging in sexual acts is committing a misdemeanor offense.

Intimate body parts includes the genitals, anus, or any portion of female breasts.

A common example of revenge porn includes a situation where someone takes naked pictures of their intimate partner, but after an ugly breakup, they post the images online on Facebook.

Elements of the crime 

The circumstances under which PC 647 (j)(4) apply include:

  • if there was an understanding between the victim and the defendant that the images or videos will remain private;
  • prior knowledge that publishing the material would cause the victim severe emotional distress;
  • the victim is experiencing distress as the result of the published images;
  • if the defendant should have known the repercussions of their actions.

It does not matter if the person in the images is above the age of consent or if the alleged victim permitted the defendant to have those images prior.

California Revenge Porn Penalties under PC 647(j)(4)

The sex crime offense of revenge porn in California is a misdemeanor crime. Defendants found guilty face:

California Revenge Porn Penalties under PC 647 (J)(4)
PC 647(j)(4) revenge porn is a misdemeanor crime punishable by a fine, probation, and jail time.
  • criminal record,
  • incarceration for up to six months,
  • a fine of up to $1,000,
  • summary probation,
  • collateral consequences,
  • for second offenses, the defendant may face incarceration for up to one year.
  • if victim was a minor, the defendant faces up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,000.

Having a criminal record has negative long-term consequences that extend beyond incarceration and fines. A criminal record is a social barrier that depletes your quality of life.

From the loss of business certifications to limitations in housing and employment opportunities, the repercussions of a criminal record last for years.

Defending Revenge Porn Cases

An accusation of revenge porn may be false, or the evidence may not meet the criteria under PC 647 (j)(4). Some common defenses our criminal lawyers may argue include:

  • lack of visibility: the victim is not identifiable through the material. We might be able to argue that there is no certainty that the person in the material is the alleged victim and that others would not be able to recognize them as well;
  • accidental distribution: the images or videos were mistakenly sent to another person without intent to harm the alleged victim. Or someone else accessed the material and distributed it without the defendant's knowledge;
  • lack of emotional distress: emotional distress is a necessary component of PC 647(j)(4). Perhaps we can uncover evidence proving that the alleged victim is not suffering from the incident despite their claims.
  • consent: perhaps we can make a reasonable argument that the alleged victim of revenge porn gave consent to distribute the intimate images.

We can craft a defense strategy that's unique to your case, backed by years of experience in the California criminal court system.

Although revenge porn isn't a felony, an aggressive and thorough defense strategy can decrease the negative impacts of a revenge porn charge.

With years of experience as former senior prosecutors, our skilled team of criminal defense attorneys can help increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

Criminal Defense for California Revenge Porn Cases
Contact our criminal attorneys to discuss the case and learn how we can help you.

If you face revenge porn charges, the implications can have a detrimental effect on your life and personal relationships. We can help you avoid jail time and fines associated with this crime.

At Eisner Gorin LLP, our legal team are Certified Criminal Law Specialists who represent clients throughout Southern California.

We can craft a strategy that helps you receive the best possible outcome for your case.

We understand the gravity of the implications and what information prosecutors seek.

Our firm is located at 1999 Avenue of the Stars, 11th Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90067.

Call our law firm at (877) 781-1570 to discuss your case in confidence, or contact us online.  

We speak English, Russian, Armenian, and Spanish.

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