Posting sexually explicit photographs of someone online, without their permission is a crime in Denver, Boulder and El Paso County and across the state. While previously, this crime would be charged as Harassment or Invasion of Privacy, Colorado now has a new law that applies specifically to what popular media has termed “revenge porn.” Essentially, revenge porn involves posting sexually explicit media publicly, without the consent of the person in the media. The most common scenario involves ex-partners posting pictures, that were originally taken consensually, online in order to shame or embarrass the person.
New Revenge Porn Law in Colorado
In Colorado, a new law specifically prohibits so called revenge porn. Taking effect January 1, 2014, it is now illegal to post a private image for harassment. Posting a private image for harassment is a class 1 misdemeanor. The law is very broad in that it only requires that the actor know the depicted person had a reasonable expectation of privacy and posts it to any social media or website, C.R.S. 18-7-107. Prior to July, posting images would often be charged as stalking. Stalking can apply to this scenario because one section of the stalking statute prohibits a person from communicating with another person in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress (C.R.S. 18-3-602).
Real Life Example of Posting Nude Photos
While both laws are overbroad, the laws fortunately do not define these offenses as sexual offenses. A few years ago, I represented a young man who posted images of his nude girlfriend on-line after they broke up. He was charged with stalking and criminal invasion of privacy. In his situation, the criminal invasion of privacy constituted a sexual offense and subjected him to rigorous probation. The reality is that when people post these kinds of images, its not because the person is some kind of sexual deviant that needs to be subjected to sex offender treatment. Instead, these cases are really about how people handle break-ups and how generally they bring out the worst in everyone. While I certainly think the legislature’s attempt at criminalizing revenge porn is overbroad, I at least applaud them for not making this a sexual offense as so many local DAs seem to want to do.