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What is the maximum sentence for Revenge Porn?

Facing a charge of revenge porn and uncertain about the potential sentence? Concerned for a loved one that is facing such a charge? You’re not alone. Concerns about sentencing are a common query among clients seeking legal counsel. While the consequences of revenge porn can indeed be serious, solicitors can take steps to mitigate the impact should you be convicted. In this article, we provide an overview of the offence of revenge porn, including the maximum sentence, key points from sentencing guidelines, strategies solicitors can employ to minimise sentences, and resources for further assistance.

What is the offence of revenge porn?

The offence of revenge porn in England involves the sharing of private, sexual images or videos of another person without their consent and with the intention of causing distress. This act is considered a serious invasion of privacy and can cause significant emotional and psychological harm to the victims.

The primary statute governing the offence of revenge porn in England is the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. Specifically, Section 33 of this Act makes it a criminal offence to disclose private sexual photographs and films with the intent to cause distress.

To secure a conviction for revenge porn, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The material disclosed was a private and sexual photograph or film.
  • The disclosure was made without the consent of the individual depicted.
  • The person disclosing the material intended to cause the individual distress.

To substantiate these claims, the prosecution may present various forms of evidence. This could include digital communications, such as text messages or social media exchanges, indicating the lack of consent or malicious intent behind the disclosure. Additionally, they may rely on witness testimony from the victim or individuals privy to the circumstances surrounding the sharing of the material.

Forensic analysis of electronic devices may also uncover valuable evidence, such as timestamps or metadata, corroborating the timeline and context of the disclosure. Furthermore, any corroborating evidence demonstrating the impact of the disclosure on the victim’s emotional well-being, such as statements from mental health professionals or testimony from the victim themselves, can strengthen the prosecution’s case.

In summary, securing a conviction for revenge porn requires comprehensive evidence that satisfies each element of the offence. By meticulously gathering and presenting relevant evidence, the prosecution aims to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions and provide justice for victims of this harmful practice.

Examples of the offence of revenge porn include:

  • Posting intimate photos of an ex-partner on social media without their permission.
  • Sharing a private video of someone having sex via messaging apps to mutual friends.
  • Emailing nude pictures of a former partner to colleagues at their workplace.
  • Uploading sexual images of a person to a public forum or website.
  • Distributing explicit photos of someone via printed flyers around their local area.
  • Sending intimate videos of an individual to their family members.
  • Sharing a private image of someone engaged in sexual activity on a group chat.
  • Disclosing sexual photographs of an ex-partner during a live stream.
  • Uploading private sexual images onto pornographic websites without consent.
  • Showing private and sexual videos of an individual to people at a public event.

In all these examples, the common elements are the lack of consent and the intent to cause distress, central to the offence of revenge porn

What is the maximum sentence for revenge porn?

Under English law, the offence of revenge porn, formally referred to as the non-consensual disclosure of private sexual photographs and films with the intent to cause distress, carries serious consequences. According to the Sentencing Council guidelines, the maximum sentence for this offence is two years’ imprisonment.

This sentence can vary based on several factors, including the severity of the distress caused to the victim, any previous convictions, and whether there were any aggravating or mitigating factors involved in the case. Therefore, having an experienced criminal defence solicitor can be invaluable in navigating the legal intricacies and presenting the best possible defence.

What factors influence the sentencing of revenge porn?

When a judge is determining the appropriate sentence for revenge porn, several key factors are taken into consideration, guided by the Sentencing Council’s guidelines. Understanding these factors can help individuals better comprehend the potential outcomes of their case and the rationale behind a judge’s decision.

For the most part, a judge considers harm and culpability and then looks at aggravating and mitigating factors.

Harm and culpability assessments involve the judge evaluating the extent of harm caused to the victim as well as the level of responsibility and blameworthiness of the offender. This involves carefully examining the impact of the offence on the victim’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being, as well as the degree of intentionality and awareness demonstrated by the offender in committing the offence.

Aggravating factors increase the severity of the offence and can result in a harsher sentence. For revenge porn cases, aggravating factors may include:

  1. Intent to Cause Maximum Distress: If it is evident that the perpetrator shared the material with the express purpose of causing the victim significant distress, this will weigh heavily against them.
  2. Wide Distribution: Disseminating the material to a large audience or on multiple platforms may increase the sentence.
  3. Previous Convictions: Any prior criminal record, particularly related to similar offences, can also lead to a more severe sentence.
  4. Abuse of Trust: If the offender was in a position of trust or had a close relationship with the victim, the betrayal element aggravates the offence.
  5. Nature and Content of Material: The more explicit and intrusive the material, the greater the potential for a stronger sentence.
  6. Impact on the Victim: The judge will consider the psychological and emotional impact on the victim, including any evidence of lasting trauma.

Mitigating factors, on the other hand, can reduce the severity of the sentence. In revenge porn cases, these might include:

  1. Remorse and Responsibility: Genuine remorse and taking responsibility for the offence can lead to a more lenient sentence.
  2. Early Guilty Plea: A plea entered at the earliest opportunity can mitigate the sentence.
  3. Cooperation with Authorities: Active cooperation with law enforcement during the investigation and prosecution process may be viewed favourably by the court.
  4. Lack of Prior Offences: A clean criminal record, particularly in relation to similar offences, may lessen the sentence.
  5. Extenuating Circumstances: Factors such as the offender’s mental health, personal circumstances, or coercion from others may be considered in determining the sentence.

How can a solicitor help with reducing the sentence for revenge porn?

As we have seen, revenge porn is a serious offence under English law, carrying significant legal repercussions. Engaging a skilled solicitor can be crucial in mitigating the severity of the sentence. Here’s an overview of how a solicitor can assist and what to consider when selecting legal representation.

Facing charges for revenge porn can be daunting and navigating the legal system without professional guidance could lead to severe consequences. A qualified solicitor can provide several essential services:

  • Expert Legal Advice: A solicitor will explain the charges, potential defences, and the overall judicial process, ensuring you are fully informed.
  • Mitigating Circumstances: They can present any mitigating factors to the court, such as lack of prior criminal history, mental health conditions, or evidence of remorse, which could work in your favour.
  • Plea Negotiations: A solicitor might negotiate with the prosecution for a reduced charge or sentencing recommendation in exchange for a guilty plea.
  • Representation in Court: Skilled representation can significantly affect the court’s perception of your case, potentially leading to a reduced sentence.

Selecting the right solicitor is crucial for the best possible outcome. Consider the following factors:

  • Experience and Specialisation: Choose a solicitor with specific experience in handling cases of revenge porn. Their understanding of the intricacies of such cases can be invaluable.
  • Track Record: Look for solicitors with a proven record of successfully reducing sentences for similar offences.
  • Client Testimonials: Previous clients’ reviews and testimonials can provide insights into a solicitor’s effectiveness and professionalism.
  • Communication Skills: A solicitor who communicates clearly and regularly can help alleviate your anxiety and keep you informed throughout the process.
  • Availability: Ensure the solicitor has the time and resources to dedicate to your case.

Where to get more help

At Stuart Miller Solicitors, we recognise the gravity of your concerns and are here to offer guidance and support every step of the way. Our compassionate team is dedicated to providing you with the assistance and clarity you need regarding sentencing and other aspects of revenge porn cases. No matter your circumstances, our approachable staff are ready to stand by your side. Reach out to us today for personalised assistance tailored to your situation.

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