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A Comprehensive Look At Cyber Bullying, Sexting & Revenge Porn In Law

Florida’s Legislature passed 227 laws during its annual session and 27 of those became law on October 1st. They address issues ranging from revenge porn to prostitution to training law enforcement officers on how to recognize health emergencies brought on by diabetes.

For revenge pornography, it will now be illegal in Florida to post sexually explicit photos or videos of exes online without their consent. The practice involves people getting back at exes by posting photos and videos taken in better times and in confidence when they were meant to remain private.

The first offense would be a first-degree misdemeanor charge and a second violation would be a third-degree felony, which is punishable be up to five years in prison. For more legal information about filing a lawsuit against your offender contact a skilled child sexual abuse attorney today.

The internet and smartphones have expanded the means of communication, and teens are now just a click, swipe or post away from interacting with their friends using social media. Outside of the likes and retweets, the instant interaction has led to new opportunities for bullies and ex-lovers to harass their target.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is defined as any bullying that takes place using electronic technology, and can take the form of threats, name calling, and rumors being spread on social media platforms. It can also include inappropriate photos or images being virtually spread throughout a community. Mark Seguin, founder and CEO of TBG Solutions, a company that educates students, parents and teachers on cyber safety and social media awareness, believes the sense of anonymity encourages kids to get behind the keyboard and harass their peers.

In 2013, the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey found that 15% of high school students experienced cyberbullying, while a report by the Anti-Defamation League found that 88% of teens have seen someone bullied on social media sites. With technology continually changing and the introduction of new social media applications, opportunities for cyberbullying increase daily, especially when 92% of kids log-on each day, according to the Pew Research Center.

Seguin believes that cyberbullying is worse than physical buying because if someone beats you up, you can heal; whereas if some threatens you behind a screen with anonymity in their favor, you can’t see who it is and you can’t do anything about it.

  • In Polk County, the harassment of Rebecca Sedwick led her to suicide in September of 2013. The harassment started when one of the girls Rebecca knew started dating her ex-boyfriend. This girl, along with a group of her friends, would send Sedwick messages on Facebook calling her names and encouraging her to kill herself. Eventually, the girls brought the fight to Sedwick and things got pretty physical, stated the police. Even after warnings, the cyberbullying became too much for Rebecca to handle and regrettably, she jumped to her death in September 2013. The girls were arrested and charged with felony aggravated stalking in connect with Sedwick’s death [2].

Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid or young adult when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night. The accessibility along with the bully’s presence being anonymous can make it impossible to find the source of the harassment. It’s always important to know what kids are using and who they are talking to.

Sexting

Sexting is defined as the sending of a sexually explicit photo, image or text to another person by cell phone. According to NoBullying.com, 24 % of high school students have send a nude or semi-nude picture to someone else. Young adults believe that when they send an image to someone they trust, it is for that person only, when in reality, receivers often share the images with their friends or share the images for humiliation and revenge.

Kids may believe that being in possession of or passing around a nude photo of a classmate is harmless fun. However, possessing photos of minors is a criminal offense that can often lead to child pornography charges, prosecution and having to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives if caught.

  • In Fayetteville, North Carolina, the Jack Britt High School quarterback, Cormega Copening is facing two counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Authorities accidently ran across the text messages and images under speculation while they were investigation another individual being accused of statutory rape. Cormega Copening, 17, wasn’t a person of interest and his mother, confident her son had not committed any crime, agreed to let the authorities check out her son’s phone to find evidence of third-party messages going back and forth. This investigation took place when both Copening and his girlfriend were each 16 years old.

When police found inappropriate photos of his girlfriend as well as himself on the phone, they detoured their investigation and had the former football player thrown in jail as well as his girlfriend. Both are being charged with felonious distribution of pornographic material.

What they thought was innocent fun with each other as high school sweethearts ended up being a criminal investigation where both decided to plead guilty and opt for a deal which sentenced them to one year probation without access to a cellphone, a class on making smarter life decisions, and a $200 fine [3].

Effective October 1, 2011, in Florida, a minor who is caught sending, creating or possessing a nude image of a minor will be charged with a non-criminal violation. Under this law, a minor will receive either a $ 60 fine or 8 hours of community service and may also be required to attend educational classes. A second offense will result in a first degree misdemeanor, and a third offense will result in a third degree felony. Any images sent or received within a 24 hour period will be treated as one offense. In addition, a minor who is sent improper images and (i) did not solicit the images, (ii) took reasonable steps to report the images to a parent, guardian, school official or law enforcement officer, and (iii) did not distribute the image, then the minor will not be charged with a sexting offense. Finally, the law applies to minors and teenagers who are 18 and are caught sexting with a minor can still be charged under the State’s child pornography laws, and the law only covers nude images, images of minors engaged in sexual conduct or sexual excitement are not covered and minors can still be charged under the State’s child pornography laws if such images are possessed, distributed or created [4].

Revenge Pornography

The “sexual cyberharassment” bill that took effect on Oct. 1 makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail to transmit nude pictures with identifying information about the subject of the images, without that person’s consent. Repeated offenses would be felonies, carrying penalties up to five years in prison.

Sexual cyberharassment is defined in the bill as a distribution of any explicit image “that contains or conveys the personal identification information of the depicted person” without the person’s consent, for purposes of “causing substantial emotional distress.”

With addition of Florida, 17 states have adopted laws since 2013 against posting nude images or depictions of sexual activity without a person’s consent, according to the “End Revenge Porn” campaign organized by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative [5].

  • In Orlando, Florida, the University of Central Florida police said 20-year-old Sean Shahid was posting sexually explicit photos and videos on social media sites of his ex-girlfriend as retaliation for talking to police about another case that he may be involved with. Shahid is in jail on stalking and tampering with witness charges, but just posting the so-called “revenge porn” wasn’t a crime at the time in Florida.

He was just jailed for stalking and tampering with a witness but wasn’t charged at all for anything related to posting the explicit photos and videos.

  • Another case involving Holly Jacobs, a Miami PhD student, began in 2009 when naked photos were first spread online. These photos soon went viral, appearing on hundreds of so-called revenge porn websites along with her name, phone number, and email address. Photos and videos were even sent to her bosses.

Seay and Jacobs were friends at Hillsborough High School in Tampa and began going out in 2005 after Jacobs returned from college. When Jacobs moved to Miami for graduate school, they continued dating long distance. She stated” We shared the photos to keep the intimacy alive. I completely trusted him with this material.” Then the couple eventually broke up in 2008.

In 2009, Jacobs’s Facebook was hacked with naked photos of herself. From there on, more photos were went to bosses, friends and revenge porn sites. Jacobs eventually filed a lawsuit against her ex-boyfriend Ryan Seay and several revenge porn websites for “public disclosure of private facts” and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” [6]

That’s when state realized that–with the changing media landscape and constant spread of pictures and personal information happening at alarming rates with no regard to punishment–it had to do something.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA

Cyberbullying, sexting and revenge pornography are newer issues that have come to the forefront of today’s society because of the constant innovations in social media and technology. While laws are being continuously updated to deal with the consequences, you can find comfort in knowing that the attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are always up to date with the latest legal improvements in Florida’s legislation.

We fight for the victims of these cases and obtain the compensation they deserve and are owed. If you or someone you know has suffered from losses—be it emotionally, physically, or monetarily— experienced a loss of enjoyment of life, or has died as a result to someone else’s negligence, you may be in line for a settlement. Don’t wait another minute to start your case; Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA offers a free consultation and case evaluation, giving you the risk-free opportunity to learn your rights and options. Call us today at 727-451-6900 or use our quick and easy online form to speak with an experienced revenge pornography attorney and get started on your case today.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
727-451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/

References:

[1] http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/revenge-porn-prostitution-addressed-in-27-new-florida-laws/2247904
[2] http://www.yourglenrosetx.com/article/20151105/NEWS/151109756/?Start=1
[3] http://atlantadailyworld.com/2015/09/09/high-school-teen-faces-10-years-in-prison-for-sexting-female-classmate/
[4] http://mobilemediaguard.com/states/sexting_laws_florida.html
[5] http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/14/us-usa-florida-revengeporn-idUSKBN0NZ2IZ20150514#Wj2oAUC6iEe13ULK.97
[6] http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami-revenge-porn-victim-holly-jacobs-demands-politicians-take-issue-seriously-6520948