Revenge porn is illegal in California — here’s what could happen to Rob Kardashian for tweeting explicit photos of his ex

Rob Kardashian Chyna Blac

Revenge porn is illegal in California, which means Rob Kardashian could face jail time and fines for posting illicit pictures of his ex Blac Chyna on Twitter early Wednesday.

The reality TV star prompted widespread outrage on Wednesday after he tweeted several sexually explicit pictures of Chyna, the model with whom he has a 7-month old child

Digital harassment laws are relatively new. Today, 38 states plus Washington D.C. have something on the books to charge people who use social media to spread sexually explicit photos or videos without the consent of the person featured. 

In California, where Kardashian lives, there are a variety of legal consequences that Kardashian could face as a result of his actions, including the potential of a restraining order that could cause him to lose custody of his daughter. 

Business Insider spoke with two lawyers about what legal actions are available to Chyna, as well as other victims of digital harassment in the state of California.  Here’s the deal:

Criminal Court

While digital harassment is a familiar concept in today’s internet landscape, revenge porn has only been criminalized under California law since 2013, and it wasn’t until 2014 that anyone was charged under the law.

Under California Penal Code 647(j)(4), Chyna can file a police report, but the charges would have to be brought on by the state. It is up to the police department to recommend the case to the district attorney, who then decides if the state pursues criminal charges using taxpayer money. 

Under this law, it is illegal to distribute sexual images or videos of someone without their consent, so long as it is intended to cause serious emotional distress and so long as the person depicted experiences distress. 

The issue will be establishing that he knew or should have known it would cause her distress and that she actually suffered emotional distress as a result,” said Meaghan Zore, a California attorney who specializes in technology policy. “Based on the comments he posted alongside the images/videos, it certainly seems that he intended to cause her emotional distress.”

While conversationally known as revenge porn, the distribution of such images is legally considered disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor.

Potential penalty: For a first misdemeanor offense, a perpetrator would face up to 6 months in jail and/or a $1,ooo fine, according to Zore. If the victim is a minor—which Chyna is not—or if the perpetrator has prior convictions for revenge porn, the punishment may be increased to a year in jail or a $2,000 fine. 

“What’s important to note in these situations is that $1,000—especially for someone of his wealth— is really nothing and will likely have zero impact on Kardashian,” Zore said. “However, the potential emotional harm from a revenge porn incident for some victims can be life changing…Unfortunately, many still view it as a victimless crime. It most certainly is not.”

Civil Court

Another option is for Chyna to take Kardashian to civil court. She could sue him under California civil code 1708.85, which similarly deals with the nonconsensual distribution of sexual materials that cause harm to the depicted party. 

Unlike the criminal route, the civil code does not require that the person distributing the materials intended to harm the depicted party. It’s generally less challenging to prove in court. It also means that damages would be paid to Chyna and her lawyers, rather than the state. 

“These cases are worth a lot of money,” said Erica Johnstone, a lawyer who specializes in representing people who have been harmed through the use of technology.

Potential penalty: Unlike the $1,000 criminal fine, the damages in civil cases can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

In addition to a financial settlement, Chyna could get “injunctive relief,” which would legally prohibit Kardashian from posting such photos in the future. Mischa Barton settled a similar case in court this June. 

Johnstone said that while Chyna could take Kardashian all the way to a jury trial, most of these cases are settled before they get that far.

Family Court  

Perhaps Chyna’s best option is to pursue charges under the family code, according to Johnstone. Since Chyna and Kardashian had a previous relationship, revenge porn is considered “abuse” under California’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act, Family Code 6203(4). 

Under this statute,  Chyna could file for a restraining order, and Kardashian could lose a future custody battle over their daughter, Dream. 

“If I were her lawyer, I would get a domestic violence restraining order and work it out by settlement agreement,” Johnstone said. 

When such charges are filed, a judge issues a same day restraining order and a hearing is scheduled for three weeks out to figure out a longer term solution. 

Potential penalty: If “abuse” is determined, it can be used in custody hearings, according to WithoutMyConsent.org. Perpetrator of “abuse” cannot get sole or joint legal or physical custody a child. 

SEE ALSO: Twitter let a celebrity with millions of followers post revenge porn for 30 minutes before it was taken down

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Revenge porn is illegal in California — here’s what could happen to Rob Kardashian for tweeting explicit photos of his ex syndicated from https://delawaretruckinglawyer.wordpress.com/

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