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What Are the Best Legal Defenses for Revenge Porn Charges?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Aug 04, 2022

California Penal Code 647(j)(4) PC makes it a crime to post sexually explicit images or videos of somebody online without consent, which causes them to suffer severe emotional distress.

This sexual-related crime usually occurs in a situation where the sexual images or videos were initially consensual. Still, once the relationship ends, the male partner seeks to embarrass or humiliate the other by posting intimate pictures on the internet.

Put simply, “revenge porn” is when a disgruntled ex-lover who possesses intimate pictures or videos shows them to other people or makes them publicly available online, such as on Facebook.

California Penal Code 647(j)(4) Revenge Porn

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

Revenge porn is non-consensual pornography using fear and intimidation by spreading someone's sexually explicit images or videos online.  The statute is defined in part as follows:

  • “anyone who intentionally distributes an image of the intimate body part or depicts them in sexual intercourse, oral copulation, sodomy, sexual penetration, or masturbation, when it was understood it would remain private, and causes the victim serious emotional distress.”

We see more and more people being accused of sending videos and photographs of their significant others after they've broken up. If your significant other was underage when the picture or video was taken, the prosecutors mean serious business with these cases.  

You may be facing registering as a sex offender depending on precisely what you did and depending on how old the victim was at the time. Our California sex crime defense attorneys will examine this statute more closely below.

Reviewing the Evidence to Determine a Defense Strategy

As noted, this has become a fairly common charge, so you need to know the defenses if you're accused of sending nude photographs or videos of another person on the internet. Some of the ideas I have, I think step number one is to get into an experienced attorney's office:

  • I have you come in and meet with me;
  • You tell me the truth about what happened;
  • We look at all the evidence as it relates to what you did;
  • What they can prove and what they can't prove, and
  • Then, we decide whether this is the case we should fight or try to negotiate and mitigate.

To “mitigate” means to get character letters and show your side of the story.  Because a lot of these cases where people send videos or photographs of former girlfriends, husbands, wives, the other person is doing bad stuff to them, and that's why they're getting this response. 

What Factors Must Be Proven for a Conviction?

The elements of the crime for PC 647(j)(4) that a prosecutor must prove include the following:

  • There was a mutual understanding between the victim and the perpetrator the images or videos would remain private;
  • Perpetrator knew, or should have known, that publishing the material would cause the victim severe emotional distress;
  • Victim did suffer distress as the result of the published images;

Sometimes it's sent by mistake.  Sometimes it's only sent to the person and nobody else, and somehow it falls into other's hands, and sometimes it's intentionally sent.  That's when we have to sit down and figure out exactly what to do to defend your case:

  • Are we going to fight it?
  • Are we going to try to make the prosecutors prove the case?
  • Are they going to come up short?
  • Do they have the evidence?

These are some of the questions we're going to discuss, and once we have the answer, we're going to set about executing a plan designed specifically for you – your circumstances, your issues, your problems.

How Can You Defend Revenge Porn Accusations?

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

  • Distribution was Accidental: The images or videos were mistakenly sent to someone without intent to harm the alleged victim. Perhaps someone else accessed the material and distributed it without your knowledge;
  • Lack of visibility: The victim can't be identified through the material. Perhaps we can there is no certainty that the person in the material is the victim, and others would not be able to recognize them;
  • No Emotional Distress: This is a necessary element of PC 647(j)(4). Perhaps we can show the alleged victim is not suffering from the incident despite their claims.
  • Consent: Maybe we can argue the alleged victim of revenge porn gave consent to distribute the intimate images.

How Can We Negotiate the Charges?

If it's one of those situations where you've got the evidence that you did it, then we have to take mitigation-type moves, and this is where we start talking about ideas on how to get you a break, and that is to:

  • Show the good things you've done in your life;
  • Do you have a good job?
  • Do you have a family?
  • Can we get character letters from people who know you?
  • Have you volunteered?
  • Have you coached?
  • Are you involved with your church?

We've got to look at what the prosecutors and judges will look at and say; this guy made a mistake. This is an aberration. It's not going to happen again. This is the angle and type of argument we need to develop.

Negotiating California Revenge Porn Charges

These ideas will make a difference when it comes to these cases where people are basically engaging in “revenge porn,” where they're sending out their significant other's photographs, videos –and things taken when the relationship was good. 

Nobody intended those to go public, and somehow some third party has seen them, or maybe they've been posted on the internet where many people can see them.

The bottom line is this.  If you need the best, you've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  We will go over your case step by step. 

We will develop ideas that make sense for you and are designed to protect your rights, reputation, future, and freedom. The Hedding Law Firm offers a free case review by phone or use the contact form.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

Contact Us Today

Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about state or federal sex crime issues in California and throughout the United States.

I'll privately discuss your case with you at your convenience. All consultations are free, discreet, and confidential. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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