Sexual Cyber Harassment
Sexual cyber harassment is also called revenge porn. Several states, including Florida, have adopted laws that criminalize posting nude images without consent. Sexual cyber harassment occurs when somebody publishes sexually explicit images of somebody else without that person's consent. The images are obtained with permission but are published without permission in order to cause emotional distress to the subject of the picture. If you are charged with sexual cyber harassment, you should take the charges seriously. Clearwater sex crime lawyer Will Hanlon is dedicated to defending the rights of the accused, whether they have been charged with sexual cyber harassment or a related offense, like child pornography if the subject was underage.Sexual Cyber Harassment
Florida Statute section 784.049 prohibits sexual cyber harassment based on the finding that somebody shown in a sexually explicit picture, photograph, picture, movie, film, video, or representation taken with their consent has a reasonable expectation that the picture will stay private.
To establish that there was sexual cyber harassment, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant published to a website online a sexually explicit picture of a person that contains or conveys the personal identification information of the person shown. This must have been done without the depicted individual's consent and for no legitimate reason but instead to trigger substantial emotional distress in the person shown. The sexually explicit picture can be any image that shows someone nude or engaged in sexual actions. Either adults or minors can be charged.
When somebody willfully and maliciously engages in sexual cyber harassment against somebody else, they can be convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor. You can face a maximum of $1,000 in fines, one year in probation, and one year in jail. In many cases, a judge is willing to sentence someone to probation, but jail time is still a real possibility.
When somebody has a prior conviction for sexual cyber harassment and is convicted of sexual cyber harassment a second time, they have perpetrated a third-degree felony. If you are charged a second time, you face the possibility of a maximum five years in prison, five years of probation, $5,000 in fines, and 60 days of your car being impounded. The judge is required to sentence you to at least 10 days in jail unless there is a basis for a downward departure.
In addition to criminal charges, the statute also provides for a civil remedy whereby the person depicted can sue to recover injunctive relief, monetary damages of $5,000 or actual damages (whichever is greater), and reasonable attorney fees and costs.
You can be arrested for sexual cyber harassment without a warrant if a police officer has probable cause to believe that you have committed sexual cyber harassment. However, a search warrant can also be issued to further investigate you through a search of your home if the proper affidavits are made.
There may be strong defenses available to sexual cyber harassment charges. As with other sex crimes, all elements of sexual cyber harassment must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The law criminalizes the publishing of sexually explicit pictures only if they identify the person who is shown. If you have not identified the person who is shown in the picture, you should not be convicted of sexual cyber harassment.
Similarly, there may be legitimate reasons to publish a photo of somebody else, such as when the publication is for artistic reasons. The statute requires publication to a website on the Internet. If you simply send an email with explicit images or message them on Facebook, this is insufficient to prove sexual cyber harassment. (However, if you are a minor, sexting could be charged.) Additionally, if the publication would not cause a reasonable person substantial emotional distress, this may be a strong defense.Hire a Skillful Clearwater Attorney to Fight a Sexual Cyber Harassment Charge
There are many strong defenses potentially available when sexual cyber harassment is charged. However, it is important to secure the services of a knowledgeable sex crime attorney if you are being investigated, even before charges are filed. Sexual cyber harassment can result in a criminal record that can cause you embarrassment and difficulty in the future. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation to Clearwater residents since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or complete our online form to set up an appointment.