Sextortion and Revenge Porn: What You Need to Know About Possible Changes to the Law

January 22, 2018

In his “State of the State” address in early January, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his intention to make changes to the criminal justice system – including enacting legislation which would criminalize sexual extortion and publishing sexual photos, also commonly known as sextortion and revenge porn.

 

Currently, there is no federal revenge porn law, but 38 states and Washington D.C. have enacted laws against “revenge porn.” New York State criminalizes unlawful surveillance, making it illegal to spread pictures or videos of someone engaged in sexual acts that were taken without consent, but that law doesn’t protect those who’ve sent to a partner images of themselves naked or in sexual acts, nor does it protect those who’ve allowed a partner to take pictures of them naked or engaged in sexual acts.

 

In late 2017, New York City enacted legislation making it a class A misdemeanor to disclose, or to threaten to disclose, the intimate images of someone without their consent and with the intent to cause harm. The crime is punishable by up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. However, this only applies to offenses in the five boroughs of New York City – not state wide.

 

Governor Cuomo will back legislation making it a crime throughout the state to publish such photos. Unlawful Publication of Sexual Images will be a class A misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in jail, and will criminalize an individual intending to cause harm by publishing images of an intimate sexual nature or compelling another person to engage in conduct by threatening to disseminate images of an intimate sexual nature.

 

The effort would also criminalize sexual extortion, creating three new felony offenses. Sexual Extortion in the Third Degree will be a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in state prison. This will criminalize a person forcing another to engage in sex acts or to expose intimate body parts with the intent of damaging the victim’s health or reputation if they fail to comply. Sexual Extortion in the Second Degree will be a class D Felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison; this will apply in cases involving victims between the ages of 15 and 17; a conviction could result in a seven-year prison sentence. First-degree sexual extortion will be a C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and will punish those whose victims are younger than age 15.

 

Anyone convicted of Sexual Extortion or Unlawful Publication of Sexual Images would be required to register as a sex offender under the New York Sex Offender Registration Act (“SORA”).

Related Posts: