Earlier this fall, a Phoenix fire captain was charged with what is commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” Within a few days of the allegations being revealed, he retired, and little has been seen in the news on the matter since then. But the case puts the spotlight on an issue that we’re bound to be seeing more and more of in the coming years.

Revenge porn, stripped of legal verbiage, is simply the disclosure (often, but not necessarily, on the internet) of sexual pictures and/or videos showing someone – usually a former lover – in a state of nudity or engaged in sexual activities. Prior to the internet, and particularly smart phones, revenge porn would have been a very limited phenomenon. But with teens, tweens and others taking sexually explicit photos at will with their phones, and then sending those pictures to friends and others, it has become a much bigger issue, one which can have a devastating impact on the victim.

The Original Arizona Revenge Porn Law

Back in 2014, Arizona lawmakers passed its first revenge porn law. While the concept was commendable, the legislators forgot to keep the focus on revenge porn, and the law, as originally enacted, could apply to depictions that have nothing to do with revenge or porn, including artistic and historical photos. Not surprisingly, within a few months after its passage, the constitutionality of the law was challenged. In 2015, a federal court found the law unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction against its enforcement.

The Revised Revenge Porn Law

It took the legislature another year to redraft the law so that it applied to revenge porn, and nothing more. What it means, in plain English, is that you can’t legally take revenge on your spouse, your ex, or anyone else for that matter, by disclosing sexual or nude photos. Although the usual method of disclosure is online, the law does not limit the means of disclosure to the internet.

Revenge is usually a bad idea. The use of explicit materials to exact revenge is a crime. The basic disclosure is a class 5 felony. Using electronic means (the internet, email, etc.) to accomplish the distribution makes it a class 4 felony. And under the new law, even the threat of disclosure is a criminal act, a class 1 misdemeanor.

Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(480) 280-8028

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