Punishing Revenge Porn in Arizona

Arizona’s Revenge Porn Law 

 

Arizona joined an increasing number of states by approving a new law to punish revenge porn. The Arizona law will make sharing or distributing someone else’s nude pictures without his or her consent a felony.  And, like many laws in Arizona, it is currently one of the strongest laws on the issue in the country.

 

Specifically, the new Arizona law makes it:

 

… Unlawful to intentionally disclose, display, distribute, publish, advertise or offer a photograph, videotape, film or digital recording of another person in a state of nudity or engaged in specific sexual activities if the person knows or should have known that the depicted person has not consented to the disclosure.

 

These “unlawful distributions of private images” can also be considered a form of domestic violence under the law.  The penalties in such scenarios are expected to be much harsher and may have dramatic implications on custody disputes.

What is Revenge Porn?

 

Though it’s becoming more prevalent, many people are still not familiar with revenge porn. When someone sends another person suggestive or naked photos, sometimes the “sendee” will forward those pictures to other people or even post them to the internet.  The original sender may not become aware of the distribution for some time. But, when the sender finds out, it can be unbelievably frustrating and embarrassing.  When posted to the internet, these pictures and videos are there to stay in some form or another.  Requests for removal often fall on deaf ears and the record of the image can even be stored by anyone that saw it.

 

 

Concerns About the New Arizona Revenge Porn Law

 

There are individuals who express concerns regarding the new law.

 

First, the punishments under the law are quite severe. The most important factor for the court to consider is whether or not an individual is recognizable in the distributed media. In the event that the victim isn’t recognizable, then the perpetrator faces up to 6 months in prison and a $150,000 fine.  If a person is recognizable in the image or video, then the presumptive sentence is 2 ½ years in prison with the same possible fine. The problem is that the law doesn’t provide a definition as to what would be considered “recognizable.”

 

It is likely the law’s writers intended for the word to mean that a person’s face was shown.  But, as the law is written, courts will be able to interpret whether someone is recognizable.  People could argue that tattoos, clothing, or other discernible characteristics might make them recognizable.  Defendants could face a harsher sentence based upon the lack of clarity surrounding the word “recognizable.”

 

Next, there are two prior laws that seem to cover the same types of cases.  Under A.R.S. 13-1424, it is unlawful to “knowingly invade the privacy of another person without the knowledge of the other person for the purpose of sexual stimulation.” This law also makes it unlawful to disclose, display, distribute or publish the image or video (just like the new law).   Then, under A.R.S. 13-2916, it is unlawful for any person to harass a person through electronic communications.  By considering both of these laws together, it seems like Arizona already had methods in place to address revenge porn cases.

 

Finally, there are those who say the people that initially send nude photos or allow them to be taken willfully expose themselves to risk.  These people initially consented to the photos or videos and in doing so, they should have anticipated that the media could be disseminated.   People that propose this viewpoint note that a law like this goes too far by protecting people from their own stupid mistakes.  Nonetheless, the fact remains that the person who distributes the picture or videos breaks the expectation of trust established when the picture or video was first provided.

 

The new law runs a high risk of being challenged considering it carries such a great penalty, the term “recognizable” isn’t clear, and due to the fact that it seems to overlap with other laws.

 

You can read more about the new law and the differing views here.

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