/ 10.17.12

Keep It Private…

Written by: Doug Ridley

You now officially have one less tool to exact your revenge on an ex-significant other. On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 255 (SB 255) which makes it a crime to distribute a "private image" of a person with the intent to commit emotional distress. You can face jail of up to six months on a first offense, and if the image is of a minor or if you've done it in the past, it is up to one year.

There have been many cases over the years where pictures of famous people have been released to the public after a nasty break up. This new law would make it a crime under Penal Code section 647(j)(4). The law makes it a misdemeanor crime of disorderly conduct for:

"Any person who photographs or records by any means the image of the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person, under circumstances where the parties agree or understand that the image shall remain private, and the person subsequently distributes the image taken, with the intent to cause serious emotional distress, and the depicted person suffers serious emotional distress."

The law also goes into fairly graphic detail in section 647(j)(4)(B) about what constitutes the word "intimate". However, in order to avoid getting this email trapped by your SPAM filter, I'm not going to go into details. You can read it yourself at:


The law also states that if a more serious law can apply, they can charge you with something more serious. I find it odd that the law specifically talks about minors, since a much more serious punishment for posting pictures of minors can be found in Penal Code section 311:


Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) sponsored the bill, and discussed the need for it. "Until now, there was no tool for law enforcement to protect victims," Cannella said. "Too many have had their lives upended because of an action of another that they trusted." SB 255 takes effect immediately.

So, keep those "private" photos to yourself. If you ever need legal advice on this topic, or any other criminal law matter, call me any time.

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