R.W. Johnson, Attorney at Law

Missouri “Revenge Porn” Statute Makes Sharing Private Images a Felony & Provides Possible $10,000 Financial Recovery by Victims

Cyber Security Hand

If you have had sexual photographs of you sent without your consent (or if you have sent or received such photographs), you should be aware of Missouri’s nonconsensual dissemination-of-private-sexual-images statute, which makes sending such private photographs a crime and allows victims to recover a possible money judgment.

Commonly referred to as “revenge porn,” nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, isn’t “revenge” and it’s not “porn.”1 Instead, it’s a form of harassment that can be emotionally and financially damaging for the victim.

In 2019, the Missouri legislature enacted a new statute – Section 573.110 – addressing nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images. It provides criminal and civil penalties for sharing intimate images and videos.

Under the statute, sending intimate pictures can be a class D felony (punishable by up to 7 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000).

Equally important, the statute provides a private cause of action, allowing the victim to sue. If successful, the victim is entitled to a financial award of at least $10,000 plus attorney fees (and possibly more if there are higher actual damages such as loss of career opportunities).

The statute applies where:

  • A person intentionally disseminates an image (which includes videos or other depictions),
  • The image shows someone over eighteen engaged in a sexual act or with their intimate parts exposed,2
  • The person has the intent to harass, threaten, or coerce the victim,
  • The victim is identifiable form the image or from information displayed in connection with the image,
  • The person obtained the image under circumstances in where they knew or should have known/understood that the image was to remain private, and
  • The person knew or should have known the victim did not consent to the dissemination.

If you are a victim of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, to help protect yourself:

  • Document everything and preserve evidence (e.g., take screenshots of texts or posts, make a diary of incidents, keep track of the names and contact information for people who have seen the images or have information about the sharing),
  • Consider reporting to local law enforcement where you live or where the photographs were shared,
  • Consider consulting an attorney. An attorney can discuss your options and may be able to help develop strategies to remove the images or limit the harm. An attorney can also help you protect your rights through potential financial recovery under the statute.

If you have intimate photographs of another person, you should make sure to understand the statute and avoid sharing or posting them without the person’s consent.

If you have questions about Missouri’s statute or how to protect yourself, I would be happy to help you understand your rights and responsibilities.  Please contact me today.

1 As discussed in Buzzfeed article:  https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/sarahschweppecopy/quibbles-bits-newsletter-buzzfeed-copydesk-revenge-porn.
2 The statute applies to victims who are over 18 years old. If the victim is under 18, other criminal statutes apply.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Roger W. Johnson nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.