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Sexual Offences Articles

What happens for a first offence of Revenge Porn?

Revenge porn is the act of posting revealing or sexually explicit images or videos of a person on the internet without the consent of the victim and in order to cause them distress or embarrassment. It is a highly damaging crime that can have far-reaching consequences. If you or someone you care about is facing charges or prosecution for revenge porn for the first time, it is crucial that you understand the nature of the offence and how a case for a first time offender might play out. In this article, we look at the offence of revenge porn, outline some examples, and answer some of the most common questions on sentencing and potential imprisonment for first time offenders.

What is the offence of revenge porn?

In the UK, the offence of revenge porn, also known as disclosing private sexual photographs and films with the intent to cause distress, is a criminal act under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. This offence involves the distribution or threat to distribute private sexual photographs or films of another person without their consent, with the intent to cause that person distress.

Key elements of this offence include:

  • Disclosure: Sharing, sending, or publishing private sexual photographs or films of an individual without their consent.
  • Intent to Cause Distress: The act must be done with the intent to cause distress to the person depicted in the material. Proving intent is a crucial element of the offence.
  • Private Material: The material in question must be of a private nature, such as intimate photographs or videos, and must not have been previously shared or published with the consent of the individual involved.
  • Lack of Consent: It is implicit that the victim did not consent to the distribution or publication of the material.

Revenge porn is taken very seriously in the UK, and those found guilty of it can face legal consequences, including criminal prosecution. Penalties for revenge porn can include imprisonment, fines, or community orders, depending on the severity of the offence and other factors. Additionally, a conviction for revenge porn can have long-lasting consequences, including damage to the perpetrator’s criminal record and reputation.

What are some examples of revenge porn?

Here are some examples of revenge porn:

  • Posting Explicit Photos Online: A person shares explicit or intimate photos or videos of their former partner on social media platforms or websites without the individual’s consent, often as an act of revenge after a breakup or dispute.
  • Sending Explicit Material to Contacts: Someone sends explicit images or videos of another person to their contacts, such as friends, family members, or colleagues, in an attempt to embarrass or humiliate the victim.
  • Threatening to Share Material: An individual threatens to share explicit photos or videos of someone unless they comply with certain demands, such as continuing a relationship or providing money.
  • Creating Fake Profiles: A person creates fake social media profiles or websites containing explicit material of the victim and shares the link widely to damage the victim’s reputation.
  • Sharing Through Messaging Apps: Sharing explicit images or videos of a person through private messaging apps or groups without their consent, often with the intent to harass or demean the victim.
  • Distribution Among Peers: Distributing intimate material within a social or peer group, such as schoolmates or colleagues, to embarrass or degrade the victim.
  • Non-consensual Recording: Recording intimate moments without the knowledge or consent of the other person and subsequently sharing the recorded material.
  • Revenge After a Dispute: Sharing explicit material after a personal dispute, breakup, or falling out with the person depicted in the material.

What happens if you are suspected of committing revenge porn in the UK?

If you are suspected of committing revenge porn (disclosing private sexual photographs and films with the intent to cause distress) in the UK, it is a serious matter that can have equally as serious legal consequences. Here is an overview of what can happen if you are suspected of this offence:

  • Investigation: When a suspicion arises, the police will conduct an investigation into the allegations. This may involve gathering evidence, including digital communications, witness statements, and any other relevant information.
  • Arrest: If there is sufficient evidence or reasonable grounds to suspect your involvement, the police may arrest you. You will be taken into custody for questioning.
  • Questioning: While in custody, you may be questioned by the police about the alleged offence. You have the right to remain silent and the right to legal representation during questioning.
  • Search and Seizure: The police may search your premises, electronic devices, and any other relevant property for evidence related to the alleged offence. They may seize digital devices for further examination.
  • Bail, Investigation, or Detention: Depending on the circumstances, you may be released on bail or held in custody pending further investigation. Conditions may be imposed to prevent further contact with the victim or potential witnesses.
  • Charging Decision: After the investigation is complete, the police will forward the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a charging decision. The CPS will review the evidence and determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with criminal charges.
  • Court Proceedings: If charges are filed, you will be required to appear in court to face the allegations. You will have the opportunity to defend yourself, and legal representation is essential during this process.
  • Punishments: If you are found guilty of revenge porn, you may face penalties, including imprisonment, fines, community orders, or restraining orders, depending on the severity of the offence and other factors.
  • Criminal Record: A conviction for revenge porn will result in a criminal record, which can have long-lasting consequences, including difficulty finding employment, travel restrictions, and damage to your reputation.

Remember, being suspected of having committed a criminal offence does not equate to guilt, and you have the right to a fair trial where you can present your defence in full. Consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal proceedings.

What is the sentence for revenge porn in the UK?

The sentencing rules for this offence are provided by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. Penalties for revenge porn can include:

  • Prison Sentence: Those found guilty of revenge porn may face a term of imprisonment. The maximum sentence for this offence is up to 2 years’ imprisonment.
  • Fines: In addition to or instead of imprisonment, the court may impose fines on the offender. The amount of the fine can vary.
  • Community Order: The court may issue a community order, which may involve performing unpaid work or participating in rehabilitation programs.
  • Restraining Orders: The court may issue restraining orders to prevent further contact with the victim or other individuals involved in the case.
  • Compensation: The court may order the offender to pay compensation to the victim for the distress and harm caused by the offence.

Note that the actual sentence imposed will depend on factors such as the gravity of the offence, the impact on the victim, the defendant’s criminal history, and any mitigating or aggravating factors present in the case. Sentencing guidelines can also change over time, so it is highly recommended that you consult with a solicitor to learn more about what the penalties for being found guilty of this offence might be.

Will I go to prison if it is my first time committing revenge porn?

The sentencing of a first-time offender in a revenge porn case can vary depending on several factors, including the nature and severity of the offence, the impact on the victim, the defendant’s intent, and their level of culpability. While imprisonment is a possibility, it’s not the only outcome, and judges have discretion in determining the appropriate sentence. Factors such as remorse, cooperation with authorities, a lack of prior convictions, or a guilty plea can lead to more lenient sentences, while aggravating factors like threats or deliberate humiliation can result in harsher penalties.

Each case is unique, and the final decision depends on the specific circumstances and evidence presented during the legal proceedings. It is highly advisable for individuals facing revenge porn allegations to seek legal counsel to ensure their rights are protected and to receive guidance tailored to their case.

Where to get further help

Getting in touch with an experienced solicitor is not just a good idea for your case progression; it’s a good idea for your emotional and mental wellbeing throughout this taxing process. The team at Stuart Miller Solicitors have years of experience in this space and can advise you on all aspects of preparing your defence. For a free consultation, contact our friendly and non-judgemental team today.

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