Last week, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, at the request of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), called for the enforcement of Arizona’s “revenge porn” law and legal proceedings related to it to be put on hold. The law was suspended so Arizona’s legislature can examine the law’s verbiage and narrow it so that it only targets people who are distributing revenge porn.
Here’s what the law says is illegal based on the original verbiage:
It is 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. (Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1425)
As written, revenge porn is a Class 5 Felony (punishable by at least 6 months’ imprisonment and up to $150,000 fine), unless the person in the image or videos is recognizable, then you’ll be charged with a Class 4 Felony (punishable by at least 1 year in jail and up to $150,000 fine).
This law came under fire by bookstores and newspapers which could be accused of violating this law. To commit a crime, you have to engage in the actions with the mindset as stated in the criminal statute. Therefore to commit revenge porn in Arizona, you have to intentionally post or offer a video or image of a person who is naked or having sex without that person’s consent. Based on this, selling an art book that contained a photo of a naked person could be revenge porn depending on the circumstances even if the store it didn’t know that the author didn’t get consent to use the image.
Judge Bolton has basically sent the Arizona legislature back to the drawing board to revise this law. Perhaps they’ll revise it to change the mindset from “intentionally” to “knowingly” or “maliciously.”
Does this mean that revenge porn is legal in Arizona for the time being? No. It means that people won’t be charged or prosecuted under this law, but Arizona has other laws you could be violating like cyberharassment if you post revenge porn.
The Arizona legislature will be back in session in January. Hopefully it won’t take them too long to update this law so it will only target the real criminals.
If you believe you’ve been the victim of revenge porn, please call the police in your community. If you’re interested in more information about your legal dos and don’ts online, please check out my book, The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed. If you want to chat more about this topic, feel free to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, or you can email me.
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