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Revenge Porn in Wisconsin

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, Wisconsin defense lawyer, social mediaThe recent trend of posting revenge porn has proven to be a significant problem for law enforcement officials. Revenge porn is the posting of naked pictures of a former significant other online following a breakup. While some states charged the crime as harassment, many states have passed laws specifically designed to criminalize the posting of revenge porn. Wisconsin has now joined those states. The law, which went into effect in the middle of last year, authorizes heavy penalties for people found to be violating it. However, it also has several exceptions that are important for people to understand.

The Revenge Porn Law

Wisconsin's revenge porn law is based around the idea of a “private representation.” Private representations are pictures or videos of a person that depict nudity or sexually explicit conduct that the person depicted intended only to be viewed only by the person who took the picture or by someone who the person in the picture gave the representation to. That legalistic definition is basically designed to encompass private, sexually explicit selfies and photos taken by a significant other. The law makes it a crime to post a private representation online or publish it in any form without the consent of the person pictured. Doing so is a Class A misdemeanor with penalties of up to nine months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Wisconsin's law is also somewhat unique compared to other state laws. Many state laws make it a point to require that the person posting the image do so with the intent to harass, embarrass, or humiliate the person pictured. Wisconsin's law has no such requirement, making it broader than similar laws in other states.

Exceptions to the Law

Wisconsin's revenge porn law also has several exceptions that may be important. The law exempts the parents or guardians of any person pictured in a private representation. However, ordinary laws about child pornography do still apply. The law also does not apply to internet service providers, meaning that the police cannot come after an ISP for hosting a website that displays revenge porn. The law also exempts people who publish private representations that are “newsworthy or of public importance.” While the exact limits of that exception are not well-defined, it likely applies to photographs that are of some public figure, such as a politician. This exception reflects the natural tension that exists between this law and people's First Amendment rights to express themselves free of censorship by the government.

Revenge porn charges are serious criminal charges that can come with heavy fines and even jail time. If you have been charged with publishing revenge porn, contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney today to learn more about your rights as a defendant.
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