"Revenge porn" is a serious crime in Maryland

Maryland is one of 20 states that have criminalized revenge porn.

Last year, Maryland enacted a law that made it a crime to post certain images on the Internet without consent intended to cause emotional distress. It is more commonly known as "revenge porn," and law enforcement is cracking down on offenders. The law went into effect in October of 2014.

This is a developing area of the law. A year after the law was passed, enforcement and prosecution remains unpredictable. However, a recent string of high-profile prosecutions nationally involving revenge porn has brought to light the potential penalties associated with this practice.

In Maryland, posting revenge porn can result in a fine of $500 and up to two years in prison. In addition, related crimes such as blackmail or computer theft can dramatically increase associated penalties.

Revenge porn and "sexting"

According to Maryland police, many of the cases involving revenge porn are associated with "sexting," the practice by teens of taking sexually suggestive images and sending them to significant others. When a breakup occurs, the teens who received the images than share them with friends or post them online.

This can be a dangerous practice, as posting nude images of a teen, even if they were taken or sent originally with consent, can actually lead to charges of possessing child pornography in many states. In Maryland, the teen must be engaged in a sexual act in order for it to constitute child pornography.

In addition to child pornography possession and distribution charges, those accused of posting images online without consent can also be charged under Maryland's anti-bullying laws, including hazing and misuse of electronic communication, both of which constitute misdemeanors.

Law evolving

Some aspects of the law on revenge porn remain in a gray area. For example, a web developer in California who hosted a site dedicated to revenge porn was recently sentenced to 18 years. However, under the Communications Decency Act, web developers are generally not held responsible for the posts of third-party users. So unsolicited content posted by a third party may not result in criminal charges for the developer. In many of the prosecutions currently taking place, the developers were convicted for attempting to get money from the people who had images on the site, not for posting them in the first place.

Criminal defense help

Because revenge porn laws are so new, and prosecuting such crimes has become a recent focus, those charged with a crime relating to the posting of online images should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Police and prosecutors in Maryland have a variety of tools they can use to seek a conviction, but the law remains uncertain in some areas. Contact the Law Offices of Charles L. Waechter to discuss your situation and legal options.

Keywords: Maryland sex crimes, revenge porn, child pornography, criminal defense.