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Was Representative Katie Hill a Victim of Revenge Porn?

November 1, 2019

Revenge porn or nonconsensual pornography is a California computer crime

Was Representative Katie Hill a Victim of Revenge Porn?

In 2018, Democrat Katie Hill of Los Angeles County was elected to United States Congress. In October, he husband allegedly released intimate photos of Hill with a woman who has since been identified as a campaign staffer. Hill has resigned, and in doing so noted that it was her abusive husband — who she is in the process of divorcing — who released the photographs.

The case involves many questions, including the propriety of Hill having a relationship with a subordinate. But it also raises an important issue for many people — not just public figures. Should whoever released the pictures to the media be charged with revenge porn?

According to a criminal attorney Los Angeles, CA, California law prohibits revenge porn, otherwise known as nonconsensual pornography. Under this law, a person can be charged with the crime of revenge porn if they:

  1. Have an image of the intimate body part of another identifiable person, or an image of that person engaged in sexual intercourse, sodomy, oral copulation or masturbation;
  2. Intentionally distribute that image;
  3. There was an understanding between the people involved that the image would remain private;
  4. The individual knows or should know that the distribution of the image will cause the person serious emotional distress; and
  5. The person depicted suffers serious emotional distress.

While revenge porn is similar to invasion of privacy, it is a separate crime under California law. It is also different because in invasion of privacy, the defendant secretly records the victim without their knowledge or consent. With revenge porn, the victim initially consents to the picture or video, with the understanding that the images will stay private. However, the defendant then distributes or releases the images without the victim’s consent.

Revenge porn is a misdemeanor under California law, punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1000, and misdemeanor probation. However, if the victim was a minor or if the defendant has one or more prior convictions for either revenge porn or invasion of privacy, then the penalties increase to up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

There are a number of possible defenses to a revenge porn charge. For example, you may argue that you did not intentionally distribute an image — perhaps your computer was hacked, or you inadvertently sent the wrong picture to someone. Alternatively, you may have believed that sharing the image wouldn’t cause the other person serious emotional distress. Also, if you distributed the images in the course of reporting unlawful activity, such as a sexual assault, then that is a defense to the charge of revenge porn.

While it remains to be seen if anyone will be charged with revenge porn related to the Katie Hill case, it is important to remember that sending out intimate pictures of a current or former partner can have serious ramifications. If you have been charged with revenge porn or a related charge, the Chambers Law Firm can help. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation with a criminal attorney Los Angeles, CA.

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