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Texas Revenge Porn Law Struck Down

On May 16, 2018, the 12th Court of Appeals of Texas in Tyler found that the states 2015 "revenge porn" law was unconstitutional. Signed by Governor Greg Abbott, the law forbids “unlawful disclosure of intimate visual materials,” which includes photographs, videos, and any other photographic reproduction of a person’s exposed genitals without their consent. The 12th Court of Appeals in Texas, led by Chief Justice James T. Worthen, found that the law is an overbroad, “content-based restriction” on free speech protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution. While this is the first court in Texas to find this law unconstitutional, there are many other pending appeals throughout the state.

According to Austin American-Statesman, there are four revenge porn cases pending appeal as of June 15, 2018. The courts addressing these cases are in Tyler, Waco, Beaumont, and Houston. Many prosecutors across the state are refusing to move forward with their revenge porn cases until the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rules on the constitutionality of the revenge porn law.

In their opinion, the 12th Court of Appeals shared a hypothetical situation where, under the current law, a third party could find themselves in legal trouble under the current revenge porn statute. Potentially, a third party may not know the person in the visual material that was shared with them, nor would they know that the person featured asked for the visual material to stay private. Under the current statute, the third party could potentially be prosecuted for revenge porn, despite the fact they were not aware of the circumstances of the material.

If you are charged with revenge porn, you could be facing a Class A misdemeanor charge, up to one year in jail, and up to $4,000 in fines. If you have been charged with this crime, find a lawyer who is current on the state of the law at hand. If you are unsure or are seeking legal representation, contact the Law Offices of the Michael J. Price.

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