Revenge in the Digital Age

Legislation aims to close loopholes in revenge pornography criminal statute

A new bill introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives earlier this month aims to revise criminal offense statutes surrounding “revenge pornography,” a practice that usually refers to jilted ex-lovers posting private nude photos of their former partners online.

In 2014, the Colorado General Assembly passed a law that criminalizes posting private nude images online. As of this year, 38 states have laws making the practice illegal. But prosecuting the posters has proven difficult, at least in Colorado. House Bill 1264 seeks to make four changes to the statute that sponsors say will help in holding people accountable.

Bill sponsors Rep. Dominique Jackson and Rep. Terri Carver said the statute as it was written doesn’t allow for effective prosecution and created loopholes that were being exploited by posters. Jackson said that law enforcement “had no direction” on the cases and that “they aren’t landing on district attorneys’ desks.” One main problem: the original legislation stipulates that in order to prosecute the act as a crime, it has to be shown that someone who posts these types of images has “intent to harass and inflict serious emotional distress.”

Defamation and privacy attorney Cassandra Kirsch said this piece of the law creates a “very high burden of proof for district attorneys.” House Bill 1264 seeks to get rid of that condition, a change that criminal defense attorney Andrew Contiguglia said will make these cases easier to prosecute.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the March 19, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online