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Revenge Pornography Law in Texas


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Revenge Pornography Law in Texas

Is revenge porn a crime? And if so, what are the consequences?

Under recent Texas laws, a person charged with revenge porn crimes, even if falsely accused, can face the possibility of serious criminal penalties, including prison time.


If you or a loved one face a revenge porn accusation or charge, learn more about revenge porn laws in Texas below — then get in touch with an experienced sex crimes attorney.

What is Revenge Porn?

First, you should understand exactly what revenge porn is in order to learn about Texas' laws concerning it. Essentially, revenge porn involves distributing sexually explicit videos or photos of a person without his or her consent.

Motives for revenge porn can include revenge or animosity. Often, they involve manipulation of a person.

Sexually explicit images may be used as a means of intimidation to ensure another person continues a relationship. Or perhaps a jilted lover wants to shame or humiliate a former partner. Even blackmail may be a motive, with the threat of revenge porn applied to extort victims.

Whatever the case, revenge porn has become so rampant and harmful that lawmakers in half of the 50 states, including Texas, have been compelled to pass revenge porn laws in recent years.

On the federal level, existing laws for privacy and copyright also offer protections. However, some state and federal laws against revenge porn are considered flawed, in part due to alleged violations of First Amendment protections of free speech.

Even so, recent heightened awareness of abuses toward women in the #MeToo movement has spurred greater vigilance in this area.

Texas Revenge Porn Lawsuits

In Texas, even before the first revenge porn laws were passed in 2015, victims of revenge porn had legal recourse via revenge porn lawsuits in the civil — not criminal — arena.

One Houston woman was awarded a settlement of half a million dollars for her emotional distress. That award came in a 2014 lawsuit against her ex-boyfriend, who'd reportedly uploaded sexually explicit videos of their Skype sessions to porn websites.

At the time, this reportedly was the largest award ever given in a revenge porn lawsuit.

In 2012 case, a Texas woman learned that a former sex partner had posted sexually explicit photos of her on a website. She was among nearly two dozen women who filed a class action lawsuit against the website's owner and its hosting company, or Internet provider. A judge ordered that the site be taken off the Internet while the lawsuit was pending.

Other such websites have been established with the express purpose of gathering and encouraging revenge porn, although some of these also have been shut down.

Texas Revenge Porn Criminal Laws

Texas lawmakers passed the state's first revenge porn criminal law on Sept. 1, 2015. The Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Material law (Texas Penal Code Section 21.16) makes it illegal to post, distribute or transfer private pornographic or explicit photos, videos or images of another person's sexual activity without that person's consent.

In addition, this law holds that the person shown in the revenge porn must have had a reasonable expectation of privacy when the material was recorded.

revenge porn laws in Texas

The law also maintains that identifying personal information about the subject must have been shared along with the images.

In terms of civil lawsuits by victims for damages caused by revenge porn, Chapter 98B of Texas' Civil Practice and Remedies Code has much the same language for establishing the existence of revenge porn.

Texas Revenge Porn Penalties & Punishments

A person convicted of violating Texas' revenge porn law can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties for such a crime include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. The convicted person will also have a criminal record.

Although the crime of revenge porn is a misdemeanor and not a felony under Texas law, a Class A misdemeanor is the most severe misdemeanor charge.

Persons facing revenge porn charges in criminal court can also be sued for damages by the victim in civil court. Victims of non-consensual disclosure of sexual material can receive up to $1,000 in damages for each willful or intentional violation; $500 in damages for each violation not deemed willful or intentional; payments for the damages of mental anguish; and court costs along with reasonable attorneys' fees.

In short, you can be prosecuted for revenge porn in a criminal court, while also facing financial liability for revenge porn damages in a civil court.

Defenses Against Revenge Porn Charges

Whether or not you're falsely accused of revenge porn by a criminal victim or civil lawsuit plaintiff, you need a stout legal defense. Possible defenses against a revenge porn charge in Texas can include:

  • Establishing that you had the “effective consent” of the person shown in the materials being considered as revenge porn.
  • Establishing that the plaintiff couldn't have reasonably believed that the material would be kept private.
  • Refuting that disclosing the material caused the alleged victim harm.
  • Refuting that you promoted the visual materials via an Internet website or other public forum.

A common argument that's not considered a viable “defense” against revenge porn charges is asserting that the victim created or consented to create the material originally. Also not a defense is asserting that the victim willingly transmitted or gave the materials to you, the defendant. Such elements cannot be the basis of a defense.

Why Hire a Revenge Porn Lawyer

If you face a criminal charge or civil lawsuit for revenge porn, you want the best Texas revenge porn lawyer money can buy. Neal Davis is an experienced Houston sex crime defense attorney for Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, and the rest of Harris County, Texas.

Neal Davis understands how sensitive and serious a revenge porn claim or charge can be. People who are falsely accused of revenge porn may still lose their reputation and standing in the community, and perhaps even a job or future employment.

It's vital that you lose no time in confronting a revenge porn charge head-on with the strongest legal defense available.

Contact us at the Neal Davis Law Firm today for a confidential and free legal review of your case, at no obligation to you. Then, you can decide how you want to defend against revenge porn laws in Texas.

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