What Is Revenge Porn, and Is It Illegal?

In today's age of smartphones, text messaging, emailing, and social media sharing, it's easier than ever to send photos and videos of ourselves to others. Some of these exchanges might include sexually explicit images. When a relationship is going well, sending and receiving photos and videos of intimate body parts or sexual acts can be exciting. However, if that relationship sours, those depictions can be used to get back at the person we were involved with. Transmitting images of a sexual nature of another person without their permission is what's known as revenge porn, and it is a crime in Texas.

Statutes Criminalizing Sending Sexually Explicit Images

In Texas, two statutes exist that make it illegal to send or post photos or videos of another person to try to cause them harm. The first is Texas Penal Code 21.16, which makes it unlawful to "disclose or promote intimate visual material." Thus, if you get mad at someone for hurting you, and you want to make them feel the same pain you're feeling by disseminating images they sent to you of their naked body, you could be tried and convicted for a crime.

You could also be charged with a crime for threatening to send a sexually explicit image of someone to get them to comply with your requests.

The law doesn't apply only to people with whom you were in a romantic relationship. This means that even if the photo or video you transmitted was of a friend (or enemy), you're committing an offense for sending it out.

Under this law, it is illegal for you not only to transmit sexually explicit images of someone else without their consent but also to offer to do that for another person. For instance, say your friend breaks up with their significant other and wants to harm them in some way. If you offer to post explicit photos of their ex online, you're breaking the law.

For an act to be considered "revenge porn" under Texas Penal Code 21.16, it must:

  • Have been done without permission from the person depicted in the image;
  • Have been done to harm the person;
  • The accused must have known the person depicted in the image expected it to remain private;
  • Cause harm to the person depicted; and
  • Include personal identifying information of the person depicted

But what if the person voluntarily sent you the photo or video that you eventually distributed? Is that still a crime? Yes. Regardless of whether the person depicted in the image initially consented to send it to you or they agreed to participate in the act, transmitting the image is still an offense under the law.

The other statute that criminalizes acts of revenge porn is Texas Penal Code 21.19. This law states that it's illegal to electronically transmit a sexually explicit image. What this means is that if you text your friend an image of your ex and their intimate body parts are exposed, and you did not have permission from your ex to do so, you're committing a crime.

What Are the Punishments for Revenge Porn?

If you're convicted under Texas Penal Code 21.16, which is a state jail felony, you could be sentenced to up to 2 years in state jail. Additionally, you could be fined $10,000.

Sending a sexually explicit image by electronic means is a Class C misdemeanor, which means if you're convicted, you could be fined up to $500.

If you're facing charges for a sex crime in San Antonio, get the aggressive defense you need by calling LaHood Norton Law Group at (210) 801-9400 or contacting us online.