Revengeporn

Sharing sexual images and videos, particularly via digital media, has become the norm in today’s society. However, once the image or video has been sent, the sender no longer has control—it’s possible for the receiver to share the image or video across many different platforms with or without the consent of the sender.

Revenge porn, as it is now commonly known, is generally speaking the distribution of private and personal explicit images or videos of someone without their consent, and with the intention of causing them embarrassment and distress. Often revenge porn is used maliciously to shame ex-partners. It was made a specific offence in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, and since then if you have been accused of revenge porn you could be prosecuted and face up to two years in prison. A 2016 Crown Prosecution Service report said that 206 people were prosecuted in the first year of the offence. It is anticipated that this may increase given the increased use of social media as a platform for sharing and communication on all levels.

Prior to the legislation being passed in 2015, then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said, “we want those who fall victim to this type of behaviour to know that we are on their side.” He continued, “that is why we will change the law and make it clear to those who act in this way that they could face prison.”

The revenge porn law includes the non-consensual sharing of any explicit film or photograph showing people engaged in a sexual activity, depicted in a sexual way or with private parts exposed, where what is visible would not be seen in public. The law covers the sharing of this explicit media both online and offline. This includes anything posted on social networking sites such as Facebook, messages shared via text or messaging apps such as WhatsApp, images and videos shared via email, on a website and the distribution of physical copies whether it be photographs, discs or tapes.

Under the law, the definition of ‘private’ is any material that would not normally be viewed by the public, and ‘sexual’ refers to images or videos exposing genitals or containing content that a reasonable individual would consider as sexual. The legislation does NOT require that the explicit material in question contain both images of a person engaged in a sexual activity, and a state of full or partial nudity—the victim could be fully clothed and taking part in a sexual activity, and the sharing of this material would qualify as a criminal offence. 

What to do if you have been accused of revenge porn?

If you have been accused of revenge porn or you anticipate being arrested for the crime, you must act immediately and seek advice. The prosecution of revenge porn cases has been treated very severely by the criminal courts, with custodial sentences frequently being imposed. The court’s view the sharing of such intimate material as very serious, with sentences reflecting where the material has been published or sent and how intimate the material may be. Once the alleged crime is being investigated, the Police will work with the Crown Prosecution Service to take forward the case for prosecution, the cases often relying on a digital footprint.

Lawtons’ priority is to obtain the most desirable result whilst limiting any reputational damage of the accused. We will do everything possible to challenge the prosecution’s case.

The social stigma surrounding these cases involves dealing with heightened emotions and complex, life changing decision making. Acting early on accusation ensures you secure the best possible outcome.