New York “Sextortion” and Non-Consensual Pornography Crimes: Potential New York Penal Law Offenses Relating to “Revenge Porn”

It likely is neither an exaggeration nor overstatement. “Sextortion” and the circulation of sexual images by a malicious and ill-intentioned former spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or other person is as emotionally devastating as it is overwhelmingly violative to the victim of such abuse. Unfortunately, New York State does not have any specific offenses tailored to these crimes in the Penal Law leaving both law enforcement and criminal lawyers and victim advocates in a difficult position when it comes to “revenge porn.” With any luck, however, this might change in the coming year. According to a December 21, 2017 press release by Governor Andrew Cuomo, it is his goal to end “sextortion” and the sharing of otherwise non-consensual pornography. While there may be some remedies to victims of these crimes in the New York Penal Law, the set of offenses proposed by the Governor gives law enforcement the tools to prosecute these acts throughout the State of New York. Although not yet codified, these potential crimes include: Unlawful Duplication of Sexual Images, Sexual Extortion in the Third Degree, Sexual Extortion in the Second Degree and Sexual Extortion in the First Degree.

A possible class “A” misdemeanor with a punishment of up to one year in jail, Unlawful Publication of Sexual Images makes it a crime to intentionally cause material harm to the mental or emotional health of a person by either (1) disseminating images of an intimate sexual nature; or (2) compelling another person to engage in conduct by threatening to disseminate images of an intimate sexual nature.

Sexual Extortion in the 3rd Degree occurs when a person compels or induces another person to expose his or her sexual or intimate parts or engage in sexual conduct by instilling a fear in him or her that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor will perform an act intended to harm the person, or another person, with respect to his or her health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.

Both Sexual Extortion in the 2nd Degree and Sexual Extortion in the 1st Degree are slated to by class “D” and “C” felonies respectively with the former offense being punishable by as much as seven years in prison and the latter crime carrying a sentence as great as fifteen years incarceration. What distinguishes these offenses from Third Degree Sexual Extortion is that Second Degree Sexual Extortion involves a victim under seventeen years old while First Degree Sexual Extortion applies to victims less than fifteen years of age.

All of these crimes, if passed by both the New York State Legislature and signed into law by the Governor, would not only involve orders of protection on behalf of a complainant, but mandate registration of the convicted person as a sex offender pursuant to New York State’s Sex Offender Registration Act (“SORA”). The goals and consequences of these potential statutes are steps in the right direction. The state of the law now provides for defenses or legal challenges to scenarios where an individual initially consented to a particular image, the alleged abuser had legal or consensual possession of that image or video for non-nefarious purposes, and the purported victimizer then shared the same. Because there are many nuances that could change the criminality of this conduct as described, or lack thereof, new criminal laws can provide firm and unequivocal protection to those who need it most.

Keep in mind that despite the clear need for this legislation and addition to the New York Penal Law, various degrees and sections of  Aggravated Harassment, Grand Larceny by Extortion, Coercion, Computer crimes set forth in New York Penal Law Article 156, Stalking and other offenses may still be viable means to prosecute offenders, secure an order of protection in Family Court, and pursue other remedies through counsel to stop a “sextorter,” “revenge porn” victimizer, or other extorter, coercer or harasser. Fortunately, however, when and if these proposed statutes become the law of New York State, the landscape will change for the betterment for victims of these crimes while giving those who might consider acting out in such a way second thoughts about doing so.

To learn more about New York’s Extortion, Coercion, Harassment, Computer and related offenses as a victim in such a criminal scheme, review these materials provided through the included links, go to CrottySaland.Com or take a moment to read through Crotty Saland PC’s Blackmail, Extortion and Harassment Protection and Investigation page.

Crotty Saland PC is a New York criminal firm representing both victims of crime and those accused of offenses throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley. Crotty Saland PC was founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors.

 

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