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Revenge Porn: What Is It and How You Can Be Punished for Exposing Your Ex

Have you taken intimate pictures of your current or former partner? Before you decide to post that image on social media, share it with friends, or try to get revenge with these private images, there are a few things you should know. Publishing, reproducing, or distributing these images could potentially earn you a misdemeanor or felony charge and cost you a lot of money.

North Carolina General Statute § 14-190.5A governs civil actions for the distribution of private images. Under this statute, a person is guilty of this offense if:

(1) The person knowingly
(2) discloses an image of another person
(3) with the intent to
a. coerce, harass, intimidate, demean, humiliate, or cause financial loss to the depicted person, or
b. cause others to coerce, harass, intimidate, demean, humiliate, or cause financial loss the depicted person, and
(4) the depicted person is identifiable from the disclosed image or is identifiable from information in the image,
(5) the depicted person’s intimate parts are exposed or the depicted person is engaged in sexual conduct in the image,
(6) the person discloses the image without the consent of the person depicted, and
(7) the image is disclosed when the person knew or should have known the image was to remain private.

Punishment for disclosure of private images is a Class H felony if the disclosing person is over the age of 18 at the time of the offense, or a Class 1 misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class H felony for any subsequent offenses if the disclosing person is under the age of 18 at the time of the offense.

In addition to the criminal charges already mentioned, the courts may award a Plaintiff (1) actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages, at the rate of $1,000 per day for each day of the violation or $10,000, whichever is higher; (2) punitive damages; and (3) reasonable attorney fees and costs associated with bringing the action.
There are a few exceptions to this statute that would not be considered “revenge porn” where an image involves voluntary exposure in a public or commercial setting, disclosures made in the public interest (i.e. reporting unlawful conduct, criminal reporting, medical treatment, legal proceedings, lawful practices of law enforcement, or scientific or educational purposes), and providers of interactive computer service as defined in 47 U.S.C. § 230(f) for images provided by another person.

Although we are in the “digital age” and many people are posting more and more information online in the hopes of gaining likes, retweets, or online fame; knowingly disclosing private images of another person without their consent can ruin not only their lives and reputations but destroy you legally and financially.