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Illinois Supreme Court Takes up ‘Revenge Porn’ Issue

The Illinois Supreme Court has heard arguments concerning “revenge porn,” defined as the distribution of sexually explicit content without the subject’s consent. The high court in the state is in the process of determining whether First Amendment protections allow an individual to make such images or videos in their possession available after a relationship sours.

An Illinois state law passed in 2015 made sharing private sexual content a class 4 felony if such material was shared without the subject’s consent. Possible punishments include up to three years in prison. The case before the state Supreme Court involves a woman who allegedly distributed images that were sent to her then-fiancé by another woman. When the relationship ended, the woman claims that her ex attempted to defame her by questioning her sanity and claiming that she no longer performed certain household tasks.

Because the former couple had shared a cloud-based account, she was able to access photos via her iPad. She then sent a letter to the man’s family with nude photos he and the other woman had exchanged. The woman’s lawyer asserts that the once such content is shared, the sender no longer has a say in what happens with it. He further told the justices that it’s unconstitutional to limit his client’s free speech by dictating what she can and cannot do with the photos simply because someone finds them offensive. The assistant attorney general counters with an argument that the sharing of intimate material should remain private.

Because of the possibility of serious felonies associated with “revenge porn,” a criminal defense attorney may serve as a valuable resource for someone facing charges related to this offense. A lawyer might question whether the content solely belonged to the other party or dispute allegations that such materials were distributed for the purpose of intentionally harming a former significant other.