Distribution of an intimate image became a crime in Utah with the passage of House Bill 71 in 2014. More commonly referred to as “revenge porn,” distribution of an intimate image involves sharing pornographic content without the subject’s consent for the purpose of causing distress. Many other states have passed similar laws as anti-revenge porn legislation has gained traction in recent years.
If you were accused of uploading revenge porn online, you are facing harsh consequences, including incarceration, crushing fines, and a criminal record, along with the intensely negative stigma that comes from being known as a former convict. It is extremely important that you contact a skilled defense attorney who has experience handling cases under this new area of Utah criminal law. To arrange a free and completely confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 right away.
What is Utah’s “Revenge Porn” Law Under Criminal Code 76-5b-203?
The crime of distributing an intimate image is defined by Utah Code § 76-5b-203. A person can be charged with distribution of an intimate image in Utah when he or she allegedly distributes the image to any third party, if the alleged distributor acts “with the intent to cause emotional distress or harm” to the person depicted in the image.
The prosecutor needs to prove a few different facts in order for the defendant to be convicted. These facts, which are called “elements of the offense,” are that:
- The person depicted in the image was at least 18 years old. If the person is 17 or younger, the alleged distributor could be charged with child pornography crimes (Utah Code § 76-5b-201, sexual exploitation of a minor).
- The defendant distributed the image. That can mean “selling, exhibiting, displaying, wholesaling, retailing, providing, giving, granting admission to, providing access to, or otherwise transferring or presenting an image to another individual.” This generally involves sharing the content on the internet.
- The image was of an intimate nature. That means the image shows any of the following:
- Exposed genitalia of either gender, including genitalia beneath a transparent garment.
- A female breast, or any portion of the breast from the areola down, including a breast beneath a transparent garment.
- A person of either gender engaging in “sexually explicit conduct.” Sexually explicit conduct, whether real or simulated, is defined to include:
- Acts of sadism or masochism
- Explicit depictions of defecation or urination
- Nudity or partial nudity exposing the genitals buttocks, or female breast
- Sexual intercourse, including mouth-to-genitalia contact or anal penetration
- Touching of the genitals, buttocks, or female breast
- The person depicted in the image did not consent to their image being shared.
- The defendant obtained the image “under circumstances in which the [depicted] individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
- The person depicted in the image suffered emotional harm or distress as a result of the image being distributed.
If any of these elements are untrue, or cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant cannot be convicted of the offense of distribution of an intimate image under Utah Code § 76-5b-203(2). Possible defenses to the charges are that:
- You were not the person who distributed the image(s).
- You did not share the image intentionally. For example, a friend or roommate may have accessed your phone or computer without your knowledge or permission while you were absent.
- The images do not depict the sort of material described in the statute.
- The subject of the image consented to distribution of the image.
Penalties for Misdemeanor and Felony Distribution of an Intimate Image
The penalties for a crime depend largely on the way the crime is categorized, in addition to the presence of any aggravating or mitigating factors. In Utah, there are six categories a crime can fall into:
- Class C Misdemeanors
- Class B Misdemeanors
- Class A Misdemeanors
- Third Degree Felonies
- Second Degree Felonies
- First Degree Felonies
Some crimes are always categorized in a specific way. For example, rape is always a first degree felony. Other crimes, including distribution of an intimate image, can receive different classifications depending on the factors that were present in the offense. Under the pertinent section of Utah’s revenge porn law, which is located at Utah Code § 76-5b-203(5), distribution of an intimate image is generally a Class A misdemeanor, unless it is the defendant’s second offense, in which case it is a third degree felony.
The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor in Utah can include up to a year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $2,500. The penalties for a third degree felony are even more serious. The consequences of a third degree felony conviction may include a fine of up to $5,000, and a prison sentence of up to five years.
In either situation, you will receive a criminal record if you are convicted. However, a felony record is a much heavier burden to carry when you are applying for jobs or loans, or even looking for places to live. Moreover, people convicted of felonies in Utah lose their right to own a gun.
Salt Lake City Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer Providing Free Legal Consultations
If you have been accused of sharing revenge porn online, you could be criminally prosecuted and sentenced to prison time. You need to take immediate steps to defend yourself by retaining the services of a Utah revenge porn attorney, like Darwin Overson of Overson Law.
Overson Law represents adults and juveniles charged with felonies and misdemeanors in Salt Lake County, Utah County, Davis County, Weber County, Washington County, Cache County, Tooele County, Box Elder County, Iron County, and throughout the state of Utah. If you think you are under investigation for a violation of Utah’s revenge porn laws, or if a loved one has been placed under arrest for distribution of an intimate image, call our law offices immediately at (801) 758-2287 for a free and confidential consultation.