Help for Victims of Revenge Porn

Help for Victims of Revenge Porn

North Carolina is one of 38 states with a law addressing the phenomenon known as revenge porn.  Codified in N.C.G.S. §14-109.5A, the Disclosure of Private Images law was enacted in 2015.  Recent amendments that take effect on December 1, 2017 make it easier for victims to protect their privacy and punish violators of the statute.

It is a criminal offense to disseminate an image depicting a person engaged in sexual conduct or depicting a person’s exposed intimate parts.  Previously, the law only applied to persons involved in a personal relationship as defined under N.C.G.S. 50B-1(b).   Unfortunately, this allowed strangers, one-night stands and same-sex partners to escape prosecution.

The amendment has completely removed the personal relationship requirement making the revenge porn statute more effective and easier to enforce.  If a person is found guilty of this crime, it is punishable as a Class H felony for adults and as a misdemeanor for minors.  However, for a second offense, the minor will be charged with a Class H felony.

Under the amended statute, beginning on December 1, 2017, a person is guilty of the crime if he or she:

1. Knowingly;

2. Discloses the image of another person;

3. With the intent to:

a) Coerce, harass, intimidate, demean, humiliate, or cause financial loss to the depicted person; or

b) Cause others to coerce, harass, intimidate, demean, humiliate, or cause financial loss to the depicted person

4. The depicted person is identifiable from the disclosed image itself or information offered in connection with the image;

5. The depicted person’s intimate parts are exposed or the depicted person is engaged in sexual conduct in the disclosed image;

6. The person discloses the image without the affirmative consent of the depicted person;

7. The person obtained the image:

a) without the consent of the depicted person; or

b) Under circumstances such that the person knew or should have known that the depicted person expected the images to remain private.

The statute also provides a civil remedy.  Victims may sue the perpetrator for actual damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.  Punitive damages are capped at $250,000 (even if a jury awards more) and may be awarded if fraud, malice or willful and wanton conduct can be proven by clear and convincing evidence.  A victim has one year to file the civil lawsuit from the time he or she initially discovered the disclosure of the image.  However, if it has been more than seven years since the last disclosure, the victim will not be able to bring a lawsuit.

If you believe you have been the victim of revenge porn, contact both the police and a knowledgeable attorney to advise you on your rights and help you receive justice.

Prorolo connects clients and attorneys in North Carolina.  Take the first step in setting up a consultation with an attorney in your area.   If you’ve been a victim of revenge porn and are seeking a civil remedy, submit your confidential information and we’ll match you with an attorney today.

Image Credit:

Xavier Sotomayor

About Bonnie Thompson

Bonnie Thompsonis a solo attorney and has been licensed to practice law in North Carolina since 2013. She enjoys legal writing and research and currently focuses these talents by contracting remote legal services to North Carolina law firms. Her background is in domestic violence victim advocacy. Before transitioning her practice, she represented clients in family and child welfare matters for almost three years.