Ohio Revenge Porn Laws: What Victims Need to Know Featured Image

Ohio Revenge Porn Laws: What Victims Need to Know

If you’re reading this, you may have had your trust betrayed in one of the worst ways possible – by having private, intimate images shared online without your consent.

As a victim of image-based sexual abuse, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed, violated and unsure where to turn. But know that you have rights and legal options under Ohio’s revenge porn law. At Minc Law, we’re here to help you navigate this difficult time, protect your privacy and seek justice against the person who wronged you. In this article, we’ll break down exactly what Ohio’s revenge porn statute covers, what you need to prove your case in court and other steps you can take to fight back and reclaim your life. You’re not alone in this battle.

Under Ohio’s revenge porn law, it is illegal to share private, sexually-explicit images of an identifiable adult without their consent and with intent to cause them harm. Victims can sue for damages, get the content removed and press criminal charges. A person who violates Ohio’s revenge porn statute faces up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense, with penalties increasing for subsequent violations.

What Is Considered Revenge Porn Under Ohio Law?

Ohio’s revenge porn statute, formally known as the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images law, went into effect in March 2019. It prohibits sharing any image of an identifiable person who is 18 years or older, nude or engaged in a sexual act without that person’s consent. (If you were under 18 in any of the pictures or videos, you can still take legal action under state and federal child pornography statutes.)

For an act to be considered illegal under this law, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  • The victim is at least 18 years old
  • The victim can be identified from the image itself or information shared with the image
  • The image shows intimate parts of the victim’s body or the victim engaged in sexual activity
  • The image was shared without the victim’s consent
  • The defendant shared the image with intent to harm the victim

If someone shares a sexually-explicit image of you without your permission in order to cause you distress or damage, they have likely violated Ohio’s revenge porn law. The law applies to images shared on websites, social media, email, text or any other manner of electronic dissemination.

The violation occurs when the recipient sends or posts that image without your consent, betraying your trust and reasonable expectation of privacy.

You do not lose your right to privacy and to choose how your images are shared even if you (1) took the picture yourself or (2) consented to another person taking your pictures. It is never your fault if someone shares your private content without your consent or permission. You have done nothing wrong by creating adult content. Instead, the person who disregarded your consent and violated your right to privacy should be ashamed for illegally and callously disregarding your right to choose who has access to your private content.

Are you being defamed online? We will get it removed. Contact Minc Law today!

What Are The Criminal Penalties For Revenge Porn In Ohio?

Ohio’s revenge porn law makes nonconsensual image sharing a criminal offense. A defendant can be charged with various levels of criminal misdemeanors based on the number of times they have shared someone’s sexually explicit content without their consent in the past.

  • First offense: Third-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine
  • Second offense: Second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine
  • Third and subsequent offenses: First-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine

If a person is convicted for violating Ohio’s revenge porn statute, they will have a criminal record reflecting their act of violating your privacy and trust.

Reporting the crime and pressing charges against the person who has victimized you can provide a sense of justice and may hold an offender accountable for the harm they have caused. Criminal convictions also lend credibility if you choose to pursue a civil case for monetary damages.

If you have experienced other forms of abuse at the hands of a person who shared your images without consent, please consider the safety risks involved in filing a police report. Abusers often escalate in terms of violence when their conduct is reported.

What Civil Legal Actions Can Revenge Porn Victims Take In Ohio?

In addition to criminal charges, Ohio’s revenge porn law allows a victim of image-based sexual abuse to file a civil lawsuit against the person who shared their intimate images without their consent. This means you can sue the person who shared your content without your consent in civil court for financial compensation and other forms of relief. Let’s look at the main civil remedies available:

Monetary Damages

Under Ohio law, victims of revenge porn may recover monetary damages for the harm they suffered as a result of the defendant’s actions. This can include compensation for emotional distress, damage to your reputation, lost wages if the incident impacted your job, and other economic and non-economic losses. Under certain circumstances, you can also recoup attorney fees and court costs related to bringing the civil suit.

Injunctions and Restraining Orders

As a revenge porn victim, you can ask the court to grant an injunction or restraining order against the person who shared your images without consent. An injunction is a court order requiring the person to take down and stop sharing or spreading the intimate images. The court can also order the defendant to delete the images from their devices and online accounts. A restraining order can prohibit the defendant from contacting you or coming near you, providing protection and peace of mind.

Content Removal

One of the most important forms of relief in a revenge porn case is getting the private content removed from wherever it was posted online. The court can order the defendant and any websites or online platforms hosting the content to take it down immediately. This helps prevent the further spread of the images and allows you to start reclaiming your privacy.

How Hard Is It To Prosecute Revenge Porn Cases In Ohio?

While Ohio’s revenge porn law gives victims the power to file criminal charges and civil suits, it’s important to understand that prosecuting these cases can be challenging.

Proof of Intent

One of the key elements of a revenge porn charge is showing that the defendant shared the images with intent to harm the victim. Prosecutors must prove not just that the defendant disseminated the images without consent, but that they did so maliciously to harass, coerce, or cause emotional distress to the victim. Proving intent can be tricky and often relies on contextual clues and electronic evidence.

Jurisdiction Issues

With most revenge porn content being shared online, cases often involve perpetrators and victims in different cities, states, or even countries. If your phone was hacked, it may be difficult (but not necessarily impossible) to identify the person who stole your content and posted it without your consent. This may also make it difficult to determine what state should investigate and prosecute your case. Many revenge porn investigations require cooperation between multiple agencies and can be time and resource-intensive.

Uncooperative Websites

When intimate images are posted on a website or platform, it’s not always easy to get them taken down. Some website operators ignore takedown requests or claim they aren’t liable due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides a level of immunity to websites for user-generated content. With these roadblocks, it can take a concerted effort and skilled legal representation to get the content removed.

Limited Resources

Because revenge porn is a relatively new crime, not all law enforcement agencies have the training, experience and resources to properly investigate and prosecute these cases. Victims may face skepticism or even blame when reporting the crime to police. In some jurisdictions, revenge porn cases may be a low priority compared to other violent crimes and cyber offenses.

Despite these challenges, you may want to consider reporting the crime to law enforcement in order to hold the person who violated your privacy rights accountable for the harm they have caused.

What Should I Do If I’m A Victim Of Revenge Porn In Ohio?

If you’ve been victimized by revenge porn in Ohio, it’s essential to take immediate action to document the crime, preserve evidence, and get the support and legal help you need. As a survivor, you know your situation best. Here are some measures you can take to regain control over your online reputation and digital well-being:

  1. Document Everything. Take screenshots of the webpage(s) where your intimate images appear. This can serve as crucial evidence for law enforcement and the courts. Also, screenshot or save any communications showing the other persons hared the images without your consent and/or to cause you harm. Don’t delete anything until you’ve preserved it as potential evidence.
    However, if you or any other person was under the age of 18 when the photos or videos were taken, you should NOT preserve the actual photos. This may be construed as possession of child pornography, which is a crime. You should preserve a record of where the media is posted (e.g., a list of website links) and may want to discuss potential repercussions with a criminal attorney.
  2. Report It To Law Enforcement. If you are interested in pursuing criminal charges, call your local police department or go to the station in person to file a report. Bring all the documentation you’ve gathered. Stress that this is a crime under Ohio’s revenge porn statute and you want to press charges. If the officer isn’t familiar with the law, show them the statute or ask to speak to a supervisor. Be persistent in getting your case investigated. If the perpetrator is in another jurisdiction, ask that your case be referred to the appropriate agency.
  3. Send Takedown Notices. Regardless of whether you report the crime to law enforcement, you can always send takedown notices to the websites where your images appear, demanding they remove the content immediately. Cite Ohio’s revenge porn law and explain that the images were shared without your consent. If the website doesn’t comply, you may need to enlist a lawyer to send a more formal legal notice.
  4. Lean On Trusted Friends And Family For Support. Revenge porn is an intensely violating and emotionally devastating experience. You may feel that you need the support of those closest to you to cope with the trauma and maintain your resolve to seek justice. Consider surrounding yourself with people you trust and who build you up during this difficult time. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’re struggling with feelings of depression, fear, or shame – it’s a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.
  5. Seek Counseling To Process The Trauma. For many revenge porn victims, the psychological toll is as severe as the reputational harm. You may benefit from working with a licensed therapist who is experienced in helping survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation address the complex emotions that come with this crime. Counseling can provide a safe space to work through your grief and anger while learning strategies to rebuild your sense of dignity and trust. Seeking therapy is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  6. Consult An Experienced Revenge Porn Attorney. Finally, it’s in your best interest to speak with an attorney who specializes in nonconsensual pornography cases as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can advise you of your full range of legal options, both criminal and civil and work to hold the person who violated your rights accountable, get the content removed and obtain financial recovery for you. When interviewing attorneys, ask about their track record with revenge porn cases and how they will approach your unique situation. A skilled, empathetic lawyer can make all the difference in your fight for justice.

Why is Ohio’s Revenge Porn Law Important?

The passage of Ohio’s nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images law in 2019 marked a crucial step forward in protecting Ohioans’ privacy and bodily autonomy in our increasingly digital world. With the rise of sexting and online dating, private intimate content is at an all-time high as is the potential for misuse by bad actors. Consider these statistics:

By criminalizing revenge porn and giving victims the ability to sue their abusers, Ohio’s law aims to deter this devastating form of abuse, hold perpetrators accountable and provide victims a path to justice. The law acknowledges that distributing someone’s private sexual content without their consent isn’t just a violation of their privacy – it’s a form of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and/or stalking behavior that causes measurable harm. The law sends a clear message that this conduct is unacceptable and that a person’s consent and privacy matter.

What if a Revenge Porn Victim Doesn’t Want to Involve the Courts or Law Enforcement?

Having your intimate images shared and posted without your consent is a traumatic event. Many survivors do not necessarily want to involve the courts or law enforcement, especially since this may require them to disclose their identity.

The choice to pursue a civil lawsuit or report the crime to law enforcement is personal. Even if you do not file a lawsuit or criminal charges, you can still take measures outside of court to remove your content from the Internet and stop its spread.

If you don’t want to involve the courts or law enforcement, you should still consider following the points of advice offered earlier, including seeking to have the content removed. The most important thing is for you to prioritize your safety, wellbeing and healing. Professional counseling and legal advocates can provide guidance and support in exploring your options.

Below are two prominent victim advocate organizations that offer support, resources and guidance to individuals affected by this heinous crime:

  • Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) – CCRI is a leading organization that provides support to victims of nonconsensual pornography and advocates for legislative change. They offer a 24/7 crisis helpline, as well as information on legal resources and emotional support.
  • Without My Consent – This organization focuses on empowering victims of online harassment, including revenge porn. They provide a comprehensive guide on steps to take if you’re a victim, as well as a directory of lawyers and other resources.

Ohio’s Revenge Porn Statute Offers Victims a Path to Justice

By making it illegal to share private sexual images without consent and empowering victims to sue in civil court, Ohio has enacted a legal framework in an attempt to hold perpetrators accountable and offer victims a path to justice. If you’re a victim of revenge porn in Ohio, know that you have rights and options to fight back against the person who violated your trust and privacy.

However, the law is not a perfect solution. As discussed above, prosecutions are still relatively rare due to difficulties in investigation and enforcement. Victims still face steep personal obstacles when coming forward. More work needs to be done to train law enforcement, push for platform accountability and shift cultural attitudes to support victims.

Taking action can feel daunting, but with support from loved ones and an experienced revenge porn attorney, you can work to get the content removed, obtain monetary relief and begin to heal. You don’t have to suffer in silence – Ohio’s legal system is here to help you seek the justice you deserve.

At Minc Law, we have extensive experience helping revenge porn survivors navigate this complex and emotional journey. We know how overwhelming and violating this experience is, and we’re here to provide compassionate, dedicated advocacy every step of the way. From gathering evidence to filing criminal complaints and civil suits, we will be your fiercest defenders in the fight for your rights and dignity.

If you’re ready to explore your legal options or simply need a supportive ear, reach out to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced revenge porn attorneys. You deserve to feel safe and respected both online and off – and we’re here to help make that a reality. Remember, you are not alone and you are not to blame. Let us help you take back control and write the next chapter of your story on your own terms.

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

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