One of Former Governor Quinn's last acts during his time in office was to sign a new bill into law criminalizing the act of disseminating private nude photos of someone, commonly referred to as revenge porn. Until recently, revenge porn has been something of a grey area in the legal world. There were certain laws that might have been violated by the act of posting these sorts of images online, such as stalking or harassment, the intentional infliction of emotional distress, and even copyright law. Yet, these laws were often not well-suited to the situation. This new law, which goes into effect on June 1st, changes that, providing a clear criminal offense for posting revenge porn.
How the Law Works
Illinois' new revenge porn law makes it a class 4 felony to disseminate private sexual images of a person. In order to violate the law, the person's act must fulfill a variety of criteria.
- - The person must purposefully disseminate an image of a person;
- - The person in the picture must be nude or engaged in some sort of sex act;
- - The person in the photo must be identifiable either from the photo or from other information accompanying the photo;
- - The circumstances surrounding the photo must have been such that a reasonable person would have known it was meant to be private; and
- - The person in the photo must not have consented to its posting.
If a person posts an image that meets these criteria, then they can be sentenced to up to three years in prison along with a possible $25,000 fine.
Many commentators have remarked that this law is a particularly aggressive revenge porn law, citing two main aspects of the law's definition of revenge porn. First, many revenge porn laws require a person to post the image in an effort to harass or humiliate the person in the picture. Illinois' law does not have that same requirement. Second, many revenge porn laws are limited to the initial poster of the picture. Illinois' law covers anyone who posts the picture knowing it was supposed to be private.
The Law's Controversy
The law has met with some pushback, particularly from groups concerned about the free speech implications of the law. American law values freedom of expression highly, and safeguards it above almost any other right. The U.S. Constitution often protects speech from government intervention, especially in cases like this where the restriction on the speech is based on the speech's content. However, since the law has yet to go into effect, no one has challenged it on these grounds.Criminal law is constantly changing to keep up with offenses related to new technologies. If you have been charged with a crime like this, contact a Crystal Lake criminal defense attorney today. Our firm assists accused clients in many different northwest suburban towns, such as Barrington, Rolling Meadows, and Inverness.
About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.