Revenge Porn in Florida: Sexual Cyberharassment

A person who commits sexual cyberharassment—revenge porn—in Florida can face serious criminal penalties, including substantial incarceration time and hefty fines.

By , Attorney

Florida law makes it a crime to post or distribute intimate photographs, images, or videos of another person on the internet or other form of electronic communication, without the person's consent, in order to harass or upset them. Often referred to as revenge porn, these acts fall under the crime of sexual cyberharassment in Florida.

This article discusses Florida's criminal law that prohibits acts of sexual cyberharassment, as well as the civil consequences of such acts. For more information about other kinds of cyberbullying, check out Cyberbullying Law in Florida.

What Is Revenge Porn?

Revenge porn is a form of nonconsensual pornography (NCP). Most often, it involves a scorned former intimate partner posting nude or revealing photos or videos of the other person or of the two engaged in sexual acts. These might be photos taken with permission or photos the victim shared with the poster while they were involved but without permission to post publicly. In other cases, it could be photos a stranger posts after hacking into another person's accounts or devices.

Is Revenge Porn Illegal in Florida?

Posting revenge porn is illegal under Florida's law prohibiting sexual cyberharassment. A person commits this crime by willfully and maliciously posting sexually explicit images of another without consent.

Revenge Porn: Sexual Cyberharassment

To secure a conviction under Florida's sexual cyberharassment statute, the prosecutor must show that the defendant published a sexually explicit image of another person on the internet, which conveys the person's identification information, and did so:

  • without the person's consent (and contrary to their reasonable expectation for privacy)
  • without a legitimate purpose, and
  • with the intent to cause the person substantial emotional distress.

Below we'll delve into some of these terms and definitions.

What Is a Sexually Explicit Image?

An image depicting nudity or a person engaged in sexual conduct constitutes a sexually explicit image.

Nudity is depicted when the image shows any of the following body parts or areas of the human body uncovered or covered only by see-through material: male or female genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or the female breast below the top of the nipple. An image of a covered penis in a turgid (aroused) state is considered an image depicting nudity as well.

Sexual conduct includes an image of one or more persons engaged in acts of masturbation, actual or simulated sexual intercourse, and physical contact with a person's clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or the female breast.

What Is Personal Identification Information?

In order to be guilty of sexual cyberharassment, a defendant must post a sexually explicit image, without consent, that conveys identifying information about the person depicted. Identifying information is something that allows the viewer to identify the person depicted, such as the person's name, phone number, physical or email address, date of birth, Social Security number, or driver's license number, as well as various other numbers or information.

What Shows Intent to Cause Emotional Distress?

Florida law requires proof that the defendant who posted the photo or video intended to cause another substantial emotional distress. In other terms, the evidence must show the defendant posted the images to upset the other person or make them uncomfortable or ashamed, as opposed to the defendant having a legitimate purpose and not intending to harass.

So, how do prosecutors prove intent? If the defendant posts a nude photo of their ex alongside angry statements about their breakup, the statements can be sufficient to prove the defendant intended to cause their ex emotional distress. If they post the photo on a website created for the known purpose of revenge porn—posting photos of ex-partners—the intent could be inferred solely from the act of posting.

What Are the Penalties for Revenge Porn (Sexual Cyberharassment) in Florida?

Florida law imposes the following penalties for posting revenge porn or NCP. Penalties vary depending on the number of previous offenses the defendant has.

Penalties for a First Offense

A first offense of sexual cyberharassment constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor. A guilty defendant faces up to one year of incarceration and a $1,000 fine.

Penalties for Second and Subsequent Offenses

A second or subsequent sexual cyberharassment offense is a third-degree felony, which carries up to five years' imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

Civil Damages for Revenge Porn in Florida

Florida's sexual cyberharassment statute allows victims of revenge porn to file a civil lawsuit against the offender, seeking to prevent additional postings, provide a remedy after the crime has been committed, or both. These remedies include;

  • injunctive relief
  • actual damages or $5,000 in damages (whichever is greater), and
  • reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs.

Injunctive relief is a judge's order telling a person to do or to stop doing something, such as ordering the offender to stop posting photos or remove ones they already posted.

Damages. If the defendant posted photos, and the victim can prove damages, they can ask for reimbursement in those amounts. Damages can include things like the victim's cost of psychiatric treatment to address their distress, lost wages for missed work, and moving costs when the victim was forced to move because their address was posted. Florida law allows $5,000 in damages no matter what—which basically provides a minimum damage award for a victim.

Talk to a Lawyer

A conviction for revenge porn can incur serious fines and incarceration time for defendants. If you've been arrested for or charged with sexual cyberharassment or a similar crime, contact a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A qualified lawyer can give you sound legal advice and recommend the best court of action for the unique circumstances of your case.

If you have been a victim of revenge porn, you can contact a civil attorney or a criminal defense attorney to learn about your rights and options.

(Fla. Stat. §§ 775.082, -.083; 784.049; 847.001 (2022).)

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Get Professional Help

Talk to a Sex Crime attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you