Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Material (Revenge Porn Statute)
The full text of Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Material in Texas can be found in section 21.16 of the Texas Penal Code.
A person commits Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Material if:
- Without the effective consent of the person depicted, the person intentionally discloses visual material depicting another person with the person’s intimate parts exposed or engaged in some sexual conduct.
- The photos/videos, etc were obtained by the person under circumstances where the person depicted had a reasonable expectation that the visual material would remain private.
- The disclosure of the material cases harm to the depicted person, AND
- The disclosure of the material reveals the identity of the person in any manner including subsequent info related to the material, or info provided by a 3rd party in response to the disclosure of the visual materials.
A person can also commit Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Material if the person intentionally threatens to disclose, without the consent of the person, visual material depicting that person’s intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual conduct and the actor made a threat to obtain a benefit:
- In return for not posting the material, OR
- In connection with the threatened disclosure
A person also commits this offense if, knowing the content of the material, the person promotes the material on an internet website or other forum for publication that is owned or operated by the person.
It is not a defense under these sections of the law that the person in the photos or video created or consented to the creation of the materials or that they voluntarily gave the materials to the person.
It is a defense if the disclosure consists of material showing in a public or commercial setting only a person’s voluntary exposure of their intimate parts or of them engaging in sexual conduct. It is also a defense if the person accused is a computer service and the materials posted were provided by another person.
If you are charged with Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Material it will be charged as a State Jail Felony. A State Jail Felony has a range of punishment from 6 months to 2 years in the State Jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
What do I do if I am charged with unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material?
First off, don’t panic. These cases have been a big deal on the news, in local media, and online through social media. If you end up on TV or online, do not respond. Some people make the mistake of trying to defend themselves. That is the worst thing you can do. Nothing you say publicly is going to help you. On the other hand, you can definitely hurt your case. So resist the urge to fight back, there is a time and a place for it.
Second, lawyer up. This is now a felony charge. When it was first created in 2015 it was a misdemeanor. The law changed on September 1, 2017. Revenge porn is making big news, and prosecutors and law makers are taking it seriously. The last thing a prosecutor wants to do on a news story is be lenient, so be ready for a fight.
Everyone now-a-days has a computer in their pocket with recording capabilities. This section of the law is going to continue to evolve, but at this point if you are arrested, you are going to have to deal with it now.
Potential defenses in this type of case typically revolve around who was the actual person to post the video/photo, etc. Many times, we need to get computer experts involved to analyze the evidence the DA has, and see if they can link you beyond a reasonable doubt as the person who posted the content.
If the posting was done publicly and there is no doubt it was you, then we can do damage control. Your record and your future are my top priorities. This is a sex crime and can label you for life. I will do my best to explain all our options to you and give you my recommendation on what I feel would be the best outcome for you long-term.