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Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images – Revenge Porn Law

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Sexting and similar communications have led to the oversharing of explicit images. To combat that, Minnesota enacted a revenge porn law to criminalize the improper sharing of sexually explicit images. The crime is actually called: Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images. This law, though, is written in an overbroad manner to capture much more conduct that perhaps was intended.

Under Minn. Stat. 617.261, it is illegal to “intentionally disseminate an image of another person who is depicted in a sexual act or whose intimate parts are exposed” when the following exists:

  1. the person is identifiable: (a) from the image itself, by the person depicted in the image or by another person; or (b) from personal information displayed in connection with the image;
  2. the defendant knows or reasonably should know that the person depicted in the image does not consent to the dissemination; and
  3. the image was obtained or created under circumstances in which the actor knew or reasonably should have known the person depicted had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The statute defines dissemination as “distribution to one or more persons, other than the person depicted in the image, or publication by any publicly available medium.” This means that the law applies to disseminating the image in non-electronic communication means – i.e. printing out the image and hand-delivering it. The statute defines image as “a photograph, film, video recording, or digital photograph or recording.” The fact that the other person consented to the initial image is not a defense.

The revenge porn law can be charged out as a felony or gross misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the case. It is a felony if just one of the following factors is present:

  1. the person depicted in the image suffers financial loss due to the dissemination of the image;
  2. the defendant disseminates the image with intent to profit from the dissemination;
  3. the defendant maintains an Internet Web site, online service, online application, or mobile application for the purpose of disseminating the image;
  4. the defendant posts the image on a Web site;
  5. the defendant disseminates the image with intent to harass the person depicted in the image;
  6. the defendant obtained the image by committing an act in violation of the theft, interference of privacy, computer theft, or unauthorized computer access laws; or
  7. the defendant has previously been convicted under this chapter.

The maximum felony sentence is the combination of three years in prison or a $5,000 fine. When those facts are not present, the defendant faces a gross misdemeanor charge of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images.

There are several exemptions carved out in the law that may or may not apply. For instance, it is not illegal to disseminate an image for purpose of a criminal investigation or reporting unlawful conduct.

Facing a nonconsensual dissemination charge is daunting and a conviction can lead to lifelong consequences to the defendant. This is a relatively new law that has not faced much appellate review, leading to little guidance to state prosecutors. As a result, it leads to more opportunities to creatively build a defense on a defendant’s behalf and to negotiate a more favorable outcome. If you are facing a revenge porn charge, contact an experienced and savvy defense team like North Star Criminal Defense immediately.



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