New Jersey Revenge Porn Laws: Criminal Penalties & Civil Remedies for Victims Featured Image

New Jersey Revenge Porn Laws: Criminal Penalties & Civil Remedies for Victims

Revenge porn, the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, is a form of image-based sexual abuse that can have far-reaching devastating impacts on victims’ lives. New Jersey provides both criminal penalties for offenders and civil remedies for victims of revenge porn. If you’ve been the target of revenge porn in New Jersey, it’s crucial to understand your rights and legal options.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about New Jersey’s revenge porn laws, including:

  • What acts are considered revenge porn under New Jersey law
  • Criminal penalties for nonconsensual distribution of intimate images
  • How victims can sue for civil damages
  • Potential defenses for the accused
  • Steps for reporting revenge porn images and to get images removed from the internet
  • Common questions about New Jersey’s revenge porn statutes

With this information, victims can make informed decisions about their legal recourse, hold offenders accountable, and reclaim their privacy and peace of mind.

Is Revenge Porn Illegal in New Jersey?

In order for a person to be found guilty of violating New Jersey’s revenge porn law (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-9), the prosecutor must prove the following:

  • Disclosure: The Defendant disclosed photos, films, videos, or recordings of the victim
  • Intimate Content: The content depicted the victim’s intimate body parts (including content where the victim is partially nude) or engaged in a sexual act
  • Lack of Consent: The victim did not consent to the creation and/or dissemination of the content
  • Reasonable Expectation of Privacy: The circumstances surrounding the creation of the content were such that a reasonable person would not have expected to be observed by others

In New Jersey, both the nonconsensual recording and sharing of intimate or sexual images are illegal. It does not matter if the defendant originally took the photo consensually, if the victim was not fully nude, or what the defendant’s motives were. Any unauthorized disclosure of intimate images is against the law in New Jersey.

By considering such a wide range of intimate content and forms of unauthorized sharing to be revenge porn, New Jersey law provides strong protection for victims and serious consequences for defendants found guilty of violating its revenge porn laws.

However, criminal charges are not the only legal recourse for victims. New Jersey law also allows victims to file civil lawsuits against people who distribute intimate content without consent to hold them accountable and recover monetary damages.

Can Victims of Revenge Porn in New Jersey Sue for Civil Damages?

In addition to criminal penalties, New Jersey law allows victims of revenge porn to sue the person who distributed their intimate content without consent. Even if a defendant is not charged or convicted of the crime, the victim can still pursue a civil lawsuit and potentially be awarded significant damages. The victim must show the same elements required under New Jersey’s criminal revenge porn statute, but under a less exacting standard, in order for the defendant to be found liable for sharing intimate photos without consent.

What Can Victims Sue For?

Under the law, victims of nonconsensual image sharing can sue for:

  • Actual damages, meaning direct financial losses caused by the revenge porn (e.g., lost wages, medical expenses). The law sets a minimum liquidated damages award of $1,000 for each violation of New Jersey’s revenge porn statute
  • If the defendant acted wilfully or recklessly when posting or sending the content, the court can award punitive damages. This means that the victim must show that the defendant either (1) knew they did not consent to the content’s creation or distribution OR (2) consciously disregarded the probability that the victim did not consent to the content’s creation or distribution.
  • Reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs
  • Injunctive relief, meaning a court order requiring the defendant to stop sharing the images or take them down from websites.

To win a civil revenge porn case, the victim must prove by a preponderance of evidence (meaning more likely than not) that the defendant shared intimate images without consent. They do not need to prove the defendant had an intent to harass or cause distress – only that the sharing was nonconsensual.

Of course, defendants have legal rights and may raise certain defenses to revenge porn charges or lawsuits.

What are the Defenses to Revenge Porn Charges in NJ?

While New Jersey has strict laws against revenge porn, persons accused of revenge porn may raise certain legal defenses to avoid criminal conviction or civil liability.

The main defenses to revenge porn charges are:

  • Consent: The defendant must show that the victim consented to both recording and sharing intimate content. The victim’s consent to record an image or video does not automatically equal consent to distribute it. Even if the victim willingly sent the defendant an intimate photo, that doesn’t mean they consented to the defendant showing it to others.
  • Lack of reasonable expectation of privacy: The defendant must demonstrate that the victim did not have a reasonable expectation that the intimate content would remain private. This is a high bar, as it requires showing the victim somehow forfeited their privacy rights, such as by knowingly posing nude in public or live streaming sexually explicit content over a webcam. The fact that a victim consensually shared an image with one person (like a partner) doesn’t mean they surrendered all expectations of privacy.
  • No actual depiction of nudity or sexual activity: The accused may argue that the content didn’t actually violate the law because it didn’t show the victim nude or engaged in a sexual act. However, New Jersey law still covers images of “intimate parts” that are covered by undergarments, so this defense has limited application.

Notably, a defendant cannot avoid guilt by claiming they didn’t intend to cause harm to the victim or merely wanted to share the images as a “joke.” New Jersey law does not require any ill intent or “revenge” for an act to constitute revenge porn.

When evaluating potential defenses, it’s crucial to examine all the facts and evidence closely. Consult with a knowledgeable New Jersey revenge porn attorney to assess the strength of any defenses and mount an aggressive case. Never assume you don’t have a case until you’ve spoken to a lawyer.

If you’re a victim of revenge porn, you may still have questions about the practical steps to take if your intimate images are shared without permission. In our next section, we’ll walk through how to report this crime and what you can do to try to get your private content removed from the internet.

What Steps Should I Take as a Victim of Revenge Porn?

If you discover that your intimate images have been shared online without your consent, it’s important to take action quickly to document the abuse, report the crime, and try to get the content taken down. Here are key steps to take:

  1. Document everything. Take screenshots of the posted images, websites, social media pages, and any communications with the defendant. Have a trusted friend help if needed; looking at the images may be triggering. This preserves key evidence for your case, even if the content is later deleted.
    However, if you or anyone else is under the age of 18 in any of the content, you should NOT save any of the images or videos since this may be construed as possession of child pornography. Please consider speaking to an experienced criminal law attorney if you have any concerns over potential criminal exposure.
  2. Report to law enforcement. If you wish to pursue criminal charges against the person who distributed your intimate content without your consent, call your local police department’s non-emergency line to file a report. For a criminal investigation, you’ll need to provide copies of the intimate images, identify the perpetrator if known, and provide any evidence of nonconsensual sharing. Be sure to save copies of all case numbers and reports.
  3. Notify websites. Even if you do not want to involve law enforcement or the courts, you can still remove your images from the Internet. If your images are posted on websites or social media, use their reporting processes to request removal. Many sites prohibit revenge porn and will delete it if properly notified. You can also report to search engines like Google to remove the links from search results.
  4. Consult a lawyer. Meet with an attorney who specializes in revenge porn cases as soon as possible. They can help guide you through gathering evidence, assessing your options, reporting to authorities, getting images removed and filing a civil lawsuit if appropriate.
  5. Seek support. Revenge porn is traumatic and victims often need mental health support. Consider talking to a counselor experienced in sexual violence recovery. Remember, nonconsensual image sharing is a form of image-based sexual abuse

Frequently Asked Questions About New Jersey Revenge Porn Laws

Navigating New Jersey’s complex revenge porn laws can be confusing, especially in such a stressful situation. Here are answers to some of the most common questions our firm receives from both victims and defendants:

Is The Defendant’s Motive Relevant In A New Jersey Revenge Porn Case?

No. Regardless of whether the defendant’s motive was to harm the victim, any unauthorized sharing of intimate content is illegal revenge porn in New Jersey.

Does It Matter If The Images Were Taken Consensually?

Even if the victim consented to an intimate photo or video, sharing those images without permission is still revenge porn. However, evidence that the images were originally created non-consensually (like through hidden cameras) may increase the penalties in New Jersey.

Is Sharing Images Of An Intimate Partner In Underwear Really Revenge Porn?

Yes. New Jersey law covers disclosure of images showing undergarment-clad intimate parts, even if the person isn’t fully nude or engaging in sexual conduct.

Is Encrypting Pictures/Videos A Defense?

No. Even if they were using encryption software to send those files, sharing someone’s intimate images without permission likely violates the law.

If you have other questions about your specific revenge porn situation, it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney. They can give you tailored advice based on the unique facts of your case and work to protect your rights.

Minc Law Can Help You Protecting Your Rights After Revenge Porn

Revenge porn is a terrible violation that no one should have to endure. Fortunately, New Jersey has some of the strongest laws in the country to protect victims and hold defendants accountable. If you’ve been the victim of nonconsensual image sharing, you have legal options and don’t have to suffer in silence.

New Jersey’s strict criminal and civil statutes make it clear that the nonconsensual disclosure of intimate images will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Offenders can face criminal charges and be ordered to pay victims compensation for the harm they caused. You can fight back and reclaim your right to privacy.

If you think you may have a revenge porn case, the most important step is to speak with an experienced New Jersey attorney as soon as possible. At Minc Law, we have extensive experience helping revenge porn victims navigate the legal process with sensitivity and skill. We can help you gather the right evidence, file the necessary reports, get illegal content removed, and pursue the maximum penalties against the defendant.

You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. We provide trauma-informed, victim-centered advocacy and are committed to protecting your privacy every step of the way. Our team has helped hundreds of clients hold their abusers accountable, stop the spread of nonconsensual content, and move forward with their lives.

Take action now to enforce your rights under New Jersey law. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced revenge porn attorneys. Together, we will assess your case, answer your questions, and craft a personalized legal strategy to achieve the justice you deserve. You are not alone, and we are here to help.

This page has been peer-reviewed, fact-checked, and edited by qualified attorneys to ensure substantive accuracy and coverage.

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