Missouri law-makers debate ‘revenge porn’

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Family Law on Thursday, January 30, 2014.

While a relationship is going well, it is often difficult to imagine it ending badly. However, the sad reality for many Missouri couples is that the most intimate of shared memories can become tools with which former partners hurt and embarrass each other during times of domestic dispute.

The Internet has made family law more complex than ever before, and a good example is the relatively recent trend of a phenomenon called revenge porn. This is when somebody posts naked images of an ex-partner online with the intent of humiliating the person. Some websites exist for the sole purpose of displaying such images. Victims of revenge porn can experience significant and far-reaching damage to their reputations.

The Missouri state legislature is now debating whether to create a law to specifically address revenge porn. On the one hand, a state representative says there is currently no law that makes the action of posting on such a site a crime. He has told a house committee that even if a woman knows her former partner intends to use pictures of her in such a way and approaches the police, law enforcement officers currently have no legal basis on which to challenge the perpetrator.

The representative, Kevin Engler, is proposing a bill making it a class D felony to post private pornographic images of a former partner on the Internet, which would make the crime punishable by up to four years in prison.

Representative Mike Colona disagrees with the proposed new law. He maintains that it is already a crime to display a picture of someone taken against their will, and it is not a crime to post it if the image was obtained with their permission. However, some onlookers have noted that the issue of permission is complicated in abusive or controlling relationships.

The state legislature is yet to vote on the proposed bill, but it highlights how complex family law issues can become. Revenge issues often come up during divorce and other family law disputes, and individuals are wise to talk to their family law attorneys about their rights. Those who do seek certain forms of revenge on an ex may find that this negatively impacts a divorce settlement or another family law dispute. When a person faces humiliation or damage to his or her reputation by a former partner, the victim may be wise to consider the full range of legal recourse available.

Source: Missourinet.com. “Legislation to create the crime of ‘revenge porn’ brought back for 2014 session,” Mike Lear, Jan. 23, 2014

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