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FORT WORTH CRIMINAL DEFENSE BLOG HOME

Dec 6
2019

Revenge Porn | Sex Crimes

Revenge porn laws have been a heavily contested subject of debate in recent years. As a result, in the state of Texas, the law has undergone a few changes. The following will clarify the current structure of Texas Revenge Porn laws.

Texas Law and Controversy

In June of 2015, a statute was passed that made it a Class A misdemeanor to publicly post intimate photos of a partner without their consent. This misdemeanor was punishable by up to $4,000 and a year imprisonment.

Opponents scrutinized the law for being unconstitutional and an infringement of free speech. In 2018, for instance, a case was heard by the 12th Court of Appeals, and in April of 2018, the court agreed that the law was unconstitutional.

The State asked the court to rehear the case but they appeals court declined. At last word, the highest criminal court in Texas agreed to re-examine this case (that was July 2018).

A New Bill Passed by the Texas Senate

Since then, the Texas Senate took matters into their own hands and in May 2019, unanimously voted on a change to Revenge Porn laws. This change added the provision that an offending party must have had an “intent to harm a person” while committing the act.

This additional provision is meant to help protect people against unintended infringements upon free speech, while still punishing offenders who are acting maliciously.

The Legal Definition of Revenge Porn in Texas

Revenge porn is often misconstrued as the act of an individual posting sexually explicit photos or videos of their ex. However, this is an inaccurate definition of the crime. Revenge porn does not actually require the offender to be committing the crime with revenge in mind.

In the State of Texas, the definition of revenge porn is the act of intentionally disclosing or distributing visual imagery of another person engaged in sexual acts or of another person’s intimate parts.

Thus, an individual may be criminally and civilly liable for the association with this activity even if they were not a previous sexual partner of the victim.

Revenge Porn and Texas Criminal Penalties

Revenge porn is considered a sex crime. Most sex crimes are penalized as felonies, but some are charged as misdemeanors.

Acts of revenge porn are still classified as Class A Misdemeanors and offenders are subject to up to a $4,000 dollar fine and a year imprisonment. The case judge also has the ability to demand an offender register with the Texas sex offender registry, as well.

Revenge Porn and Texas Civil Penalties

Revenge porn is also an act of sexual harassment, and offenders may be liable in a civil lawsuit. The civil liabilities can vary depending on the circumstances of the case, but generally include the following:

  • The offender may be served an injunction
  • The offender may be served infringement notices
  • The offender may receive formal warnings
  • The offender may receive take-down notices

Fort Worth Sex Crimes Lawyer

Offenders may also be liable for other civil claims. It is helpful to consult with a legal professional in determining what factors are applicable to specific cases.

After heated debates on revenge porn as a sex crime in Texas, the State has reached what seems to be a working compromise. The amendment by the Texas Senate removes unintended constitutional infringements and adds a provision of intention. Thus, this updated law continues to hold acts of revenge porn as a legally enforceable sex crime.

 

About the Author:

Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.

 

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