Former State Prosecutor
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On May 14, 2015, Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 538 and prohibiting sexual cyberharassment—a phrase more commonly referred to as "revenge porn." Florida Statute § 784.049 not only establishes harsh criminal penalties for people convicted of sexual cyberharassment crimes, but also civil liability.
Florida Statute § 784.049(4)(b) states that search warrants may be issued to further investigate alleged revenge porn violations—including warrants issued to search private dwellings—when proper affidavits have been filed. Under Florida Statute § 784.049(4)(a), an officer does not need a warrant to arrest any person that he or she has probable cause to believe has violated Florida Statute § 784.049.
Were you arrested or do you believe that you might be under investigation for an alleged sexual cyberharassment offense in the Tampa Bay area? Contact Morris Law Firm, P.A. as soon as possible.
St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney Melinda Morris aggressively defends clients in communities all over Pinellas County, including Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park, Dunedin, and many others.
You can have our lawyer review your case and help you understand all of your legal options when you call (727) 388-4736 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Florida Statute § 784.049(2)(c) defines sexually cyberharass as meaning "to publish a sexually explicit image of a person that contains or conveys the personal identification information of the depicted person to an Internet website without the depicted person’s consent, for no legitimate purpose, with the intent of causing substantial emotional distress to the depicted person."
An image is defined under Florida Statute § 784.049(2)(a) as including—but not being limited to—"any photograph, picture, motion picture, film, video, or representation." An image constitutes a sexually explicit image under Florida Statute § 784.049(2)(d) if it is any image depicting nudity or a person engaging in sexual conduct.
Florida Statute § 847.001(9) defines nudity as the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area, or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering; or the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any portion thereof below the top of the nipple; or the depiction of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state.
Sexual conduct is defined under Florida Statute § 847.001(16) as actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, or sadomasochistic abuse; actual lewd exhibition of the genitals; actual physical contact with a person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks.
If the person depicted is a female, then the Statute extends the term “sexual conduct” to also mean breast with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of either party; or any act or conduct which constitutes sexual battery or simulates that sexual battery is being or will be committed.
A mother’s breastfeeding of her baby does not under any circumstance constitute sexual conduct or nudity, irrespective of whether or not the nipple is covered during or incidental to feeding.
Florida Statute § 784.049(3)(a) establishes that a person who willfully and maliciously sexually cyberharasses another person commits a first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction is punishable as follows:
A second or subsequent sexual cyberharassment offense is a third-degree felony. A conviction is punishable as follows:
Under Florida Statute § 784.049(5), an aggrieved person can also initiate a civil action against any person who violates Florida Statute § 784.049 to obtain all appropriate relief in order to prevent or remedy a violation of this section, including injunctive relief, reasonable attorney fees and costs, and monetary damages to include $5,000 or actual damages incurred as a result of the violation, whichever is greater.
Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) — The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization "serving thousands of victims around the world and advocating for technological, social, and legal innovation to fight online abuse." The CCRI website states that the term revenge porn, "though frequently used, is somewhat misleading," and uses what it describes as the "more accurate term" of "nonconsensual pornography (NCP), defined as the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent." On this website, you can find a blog with victims' stories, access recent research, and read recent news.
Franks, Mary Anne, Criminalizing Revenge Porn: Frequently Asked Questions (October 9, 2013) — Download a document that "provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about criminalizing revenge porn and other forms of nonconsensual pornography." Questions cover existing criminal laws against stalking, harassment, and voyeurism, civil and copyright remedies, and First Amendment concerns. The document also discusses why federal and state criminal laws are necessary.
If you think you could be under investigation or you were already arrested for sexual cyberharassment in the Tampa Bay area, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents individuals in Manatee County, Sarasota County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, and Hillsborough County.
Melinda Morris is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg who is also a former felony prosecutor for the State Attorney’s Office in Pinellas County.
Call (727) 388-4736 or complete an online contact form to have our attorney provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.
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