New Penalties for Revenge Porn Under SB 1507

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New Penalties for Revenge Porn Under SB 1507

As of January 1, 2020, Senate Bill 1507 grants revenge porn victims the right to recover damages from the party responsible for circulating pornographic images of them without consent. It’s known as The Civil Remedies for Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images Act. Back in 2015, the state of Illinois made revenge porn a Class 4 Felony under Illinois Criminal Code Section 11-23.5. A criminal defense attorney can help folks facing (or potentially facing) revenge porn charges to understand the nuance this new provision adds to the criminal code and what to do next.

Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images Act
To consider SB 1507, it’s important to first understand Public Act 098-1138 (720 ILCS 5/11-23.5), The Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images Act. This law states it is a Class 4 Felony to distribute images of a person engaged in sexual activity without that person’s knowledge or consent.

Let’s break it down:

  • Images include everything from actual pictures to digital recordings, videos, and film.
  • This particular act applies only to photos of adults aged 18 and over. The person in the image must be identifiable by the image itself or information connected to the image.
  • Sexual activity includes intercourse, nudity, and more. Review all definitions of this term by reading 720 ILCS 5/11-23.5 in its entirety.
  • Distribution includes publishing online, sending via text message, and many variations on methods of sharing.
  • Even if the person in the image consented to having it taken, it does not mean they’ve consented to its circulation.

Revenge porn
Nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images is often called “revenge porn.” This is because many cases begin when one person (often a jilted ex-lover) wants to cause another person (often the lover who did the jilting) embarrassment. However, some incidents are the work of hackers. In 2014, a hacker stole and released nude images of actress Jennifer Lawrence online. (He was sentenced to eight months in prison.)

A 2016 study conducted by the Data & Society Research Institute found that 10 million Americans had been victims of revenge porn or threatened with the promise of sexual images being circulated. A survey conducted by RMIT University in Australia revealed 9% of the 4,274 respondents admitted to taking pictures or video of someone without notifying the person or asking for permission. Notably, 6% said they had posted or shared the images; 5% threatened to do so.

Cyberbullying
Since revenge porn is often disseminated on the Internet, it’s often considered a form of cyberbullying or cyber sexual harassment.

Changes in 2020 with SB 1507
The Civil Remedies for Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images Act, SB 1507, went into effect on January 1 of this year. Now, victims of revenge porn in Illinois are allowed to recover damages within two years of an incident, or of discovering an incident, that violates 720 ILCS 5/11-23.5. (Plaintiffs have only two years from the date of a threat to initiate damage recovery.)

Penalties, in addition to being charged with a Class 4 Felony, could include paying up to $10,000 in damages. This amount is determined by the following factors:

  • Age of both parties at the time of the incident.
  • How many times the images were shared (or threatened to be shared).
  • How widely the images were shared (or threatened to be shared).

If you’ve made any money from distributing images, you may have to pay the victim as much or more than the amount made. Punitive damages can also be tacked on to the final total.

If you or someone you know has been accused of revenge porn or violating The Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images Act, it’s imperative you speak with a criminal defense attorney. Contact Richard at Fenbert & Associates, LLC for a free consultation.