In 2015, the state of Texas passed a law prohibiting the sharing, distributing, or publishing of sexually explicit visual material without the consent of the person(s) depicted in the content. Section 21.16 of the Texas Penal Code makes it a Class A Misdemeanor to share someone’s intimate photos and videos without their consent, otherwise known as ‘revenge porn.’
Texas’ Revenge Porn Law, which the state’s highest criminal court has recently upheld, also allows plaintiffs to pursue civil action against alleged perpetrators. Just a few years ago in Harris County, a jury awarded a woman half a million dollars in damages after her ex-partner of seven years uploaded intimate photos and videos from their relationship to YouTube and other social media sites.
Closer to home in Collin County, a woman was recently awarded $250,000 after suing her former lover for revenge porn and invasion of privacy. The point is that monetary damages in a civil suit involving revenge porn can be significant. If you are facing a revenge porn lawsuit in Texas, you must hire a civil defense attorney to help you protect your bottom line.
What is Revenge Porn in Texas?
In Texas, revenge porn encompasses a broad range of issues, including putting a person’s nude photos or videos on the internet without their consent. The term ‘revenge porn’ is actually a misnomer since the person disclosing intimate content doesn’t have to be motivated by revenge or personal feelings to violate the Texas Penal Code.
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In most cases, revenge porn law is used to describe online harassment and non-consensual posting of sexually explicit photos and videos, often involving a former girlfriend or a spouse. Most instances of revenge porn include images and videos that were made consensually but with the understanding that they were to be kept private but somehow end up on the internet.
So, the question isn’t whether the plaintiff willingly took part in the making of the intimate video or photo — no. What matters is whether they gave consent to the publication of the visual material on the internet.
Texas Revenge Porn Criminal Laws
Under Section 21.16 of the Texas Penal Code, revenge porn is considered a sex crime. Violation of Section 21.16 of the Texas Penal Code is a Class A Misdemeanor. Those found guilty of revenge porn are subject to up to a year of imprisonment and a $4,000 fine. If found guilty, the judge hearing the case may also demand that the defendant registers with the Texas sex offender registry.
Texas Revenge Porn Lawsuits
Texas Revenge Porn Lawsuits are and aren’t exactly a new phenomenon. In Texas, alleged victims of revenge porn had legal recourse via the civil arena even before Section 21.16 of the Texas Penal Code was passed in 2015. The plaintiff’s right to civil action is codified in Chapter 98B of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code
Under Texas law, putting someone’s nude photos or videos on the internet without their consent is not only a crime but also a form of sexual harassment. This means that the offender may be liable in a civil lawsuit. In other words, the person depicted in the image or video can sue you in civil court.
Chapter 98B of Texas’s Civil Practice and Remedies Code states that you, the person accused of revenge porn crimes, may be liable to their alleged victims for financial damages that arise from sharing of sexually explicit photos and videos if:
- You shared the photos or video without ‘effective consent from the person depicted in the material
- The photos or videos were made or obtained under circumstances where the subject expected the content to be used privately
- The sexually explicit materials were disclosed in a manner that reveals the identity of the person depicted in them
- You promoted the intimate videos or images online or via any publication medium you own.
According to Chapter 98B of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, victims of revenge porn are entitled to various financial damages, including:
- Mental suffering damages
- Damages of $1,000 for each violation deemed willful or intentional
- Damages of $500 for each violation deemed unintentional
- Court expenses and reasonable attorney’s fees
Civil Penalties for Revenge Porn in Texas
Each Texas revenge porn case is unique. Consequently, civil liabilities may vary depending on the circumstances of the case. More importantly, the civil court may award financial damages (that may rise to a tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other civil penalties for revenge porn in Texas may include:
- Serving the offender with an injunction
- Issuing infringement notices to the offender
- The defendant may receive formal warnings
- The accused may receive take-down notices
Depending on the circumstances, you may also be liable for other civil claims after you’ve been accused of revenge porn crimes in Texas. If you find yourself in this situation, an excellent civil defense attorney will help you determine what factors apply to the specific case and use these insights to mount a formidable defense and get your case thrown out of civil court.
Revenge Porn Civil Defense Attorney in Plano, TX
Revenge porn is a serious crime in Texas. Therefore, you need to ensure that you are hiring an attorney based on their ability and experience in handling your case. Attorney Kent Starr of the Starr Law Firm in Plano, Texas, is the kind of knowledgeable and experienced representation you should be aiming for in a civil case of such magnitude.
Led by Kent Starr, the Starr Law Firm is backed by a team of knowledgeable attorneys who have decades of experience in civil suits. Kent Starr has represented many clients facing potentially financially devastating civil lawsuits to a high degree of success. Our defense attorneys have appeared in hundreds of civil trials and have all the expertise you’ll need for a favorable outcome.
Are you facing civil charges for uploading someone else’s sexually explicit videos to the internet without their consent? Attorney Kent Starr of Plano, Texas, can help. Contact Attorney Kent Starr today for a free consultation.