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Proposed bill would criminalize 'revenge porn' in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania legislators have taken steps in an effort to criminalize the act of sharing pornography to harass or otherwise harm a former sexual partner. So-called "revenge porn" is addressed in a bill that was recently approved by the state's Senate Judiciary Committee.

However, if the bill is passed into law, it remains to be seen whether or not prosecutors will be able to prove intent, which is a requirement if a person is to be convicted under the provisions of the legislation. In particular, prosecutors would have to show that an accused individual intended to "harass, annoy or alarm the person depicted."

California and New Jersey are the only other states that have attempted to criminalize revenge porn.

State Senator Judy Schwank, who is a sponsor of the Pennsylvania bill, acknowledged that prosecutors may have a difficult time proving a charge of revenge porn. If there is no legitimate evidence proving intent in this sort of case, then the charge against the defendant may be dropped or dismissed.

The American Civil Liberties Union has chosen not to fight the Pennsylvania bill, now that the measure requiring proof of intent has been included in the legislation.

Pennsylvania residents with legal concerns may want to check back later to see if the bill passes.

Sex crime allegations of any sort should be taken very seriously. A conviction on such a charge may lead to jail time, loss of employment, long-term reputation damage and the requirement to register as a sex offender. Individuals who have been accused of a sex offense should apprise themselves of their rights by speaking with a criminal defense attorney with experience in this area of the law.

Source: Newsworks.org, "'Revenge porn' prohibition passed by Pa. Senate panel," Mary Wilson, Jan. 14, 2014

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