ARS 13-1425 is the Arizona statute that defines the crime of unlawful disclosure of explicit images. People commit this offense if they intentionally disclose sexually involved or nude images of another person and do so to harm, harass, or threaten that person. The crime is often referred to as “revenge porn.” A violation of this law is typically a Class 5 felony punishable by over two years in state prison.
The language of ARS 13-1425 states: “It is unlawful for a person to intentionally disclose an image of another person who is identifiable from the image itself or from information displayed in connection with the image if all of the following apply:
- The person in the image is depicted in a state of nudity or is engaged in specific sexual activities.
- The depicted person has a reasonable expectation of privacy…
- The image is disclosed with the intent to harm, harass, intimidate, threaten or coerce the depicted person.”
- posting an ex-girlfriend’s naked selfie on social media.
- taking nude photos of a spouse and then posting them on an internet sex site.
- capturing images of a neighbor engaged in sexual acts and emailing them to friends to harm her.
Criminal defense lawyers draw upon several legal strategies to help clients contest charges under this criminal law. Some of these include showing that:
- a defendant did not act intentionally,
- the “victim” consented to the disclosure, and/or
- the accused is exempt under the law.
A violation of Arizona’s revenge porn law is usually a Class 5 felony (as opposed to a misdemeanor offense). The crime is punishable by:
- custody in state prison for up to two years and six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $150,000.
In this article, our Phoenix Arizona criminal defense attorneys will discuss what the law is under this statute, defenses available if charged, the penalties for a conviction, and related crimes.
1.How does Arizona law define the “unlawful disclosure of explicit images”?
The Arizona revenge porn law makes it a crime for a person to disclose images of another person if all of the following apply:
- the person in the image is depicted in a state of nudity or is engaged in sexual activities,
- the depicted person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and
- the image is disclosed with the intent to harm, harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce the depicted person.i
For the purposes of this statute, “reasonable expectation of privacy” means that a person exhibits an actual expectation of privacy and the expectation is reasonable.ii For example, a person may have a reasonable expectation of privacy while changing clothes in a locker room.
Further, “image” means a photograph, videotape, film, or digital recording.iii
Note that the language of this statute lists certain exceptions in which people are not guilty of a crime. ARS 14-1425B states that the section does not apply to any of the following:
- the reporting of unlawful conduct,
- lawful practices of law enforcement, criminal reporting, legal proceedings, or medical treatment,
- images involving voluntary exposure in a public or commercial setting, and
- any disclosure that is made with the consent of the person who is depicted in the image.iv
2. Are there defenses to ARS 13-1425?
People accused of a crime under this statute have the right to challenge the accusation with a legal defense. Three common defenses include accused people showing that:
- they did not act intentionally.
- they acted with a person’s consent.
- they are exempt under the law.
2.1 No intentional act
People are only guilty under this statute if they intentionally disclose an image and do so with an intent to harm, harass, or threaten. A defense, then, is for defendants to show that they did not act intentionally. Maybe, for example, a person did not disclose an image to harass a person but did so more as a practical joke to get a laugh.
It is always a defense for an accused to show that the alleged victim of revenge porn consented to any distribution of the nude or intimate images.
2.3 Exempt under the law
Recall that ARS 13-1425 lists several exceptions where people are not guilty of revenge porn. For example, a person is not guilty of showing a nude image if it is necessary to report some unlawful conduct. Therefore, defendants can challenge a charge by showing that they are exempt under the law.
3. What are the penalties?
The unlawful disclosure of images is a Class 5 felony under Arizona law.v A Class 5 felony is punishable by a state prison term of two years and six months.
Note, though, that the crime is charged as a Class 4 felony if a person discloses an image by electronic means.vi “Disclosed by electronic means” means delivery to an e-mail address, mobile device, tablet, or other electronic device and includes disclosure on a website.vii A Class 4 felony is punishable by three years and nine months in state prison.
Further, a prosecutor can charge revenge porn as a Class 1 misdemeanor if a person threatens to disclose an intimate image without ever actually disclosing it.viii A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail.
4. Are there related crimes?
There are three offenses related to revenge porn. These are:
- voyeurism – ARS 13-1424,
- surreptitious photographing – ARS 13-3019, and
- extortion – ARS 13-1804
4.1 Voyeurism – ARS 13-1424
Per ARS 13-1424, voyeurism is the crime where people either:
- invade the privacy of another person, without that person’s knowledge, and do so for the purpose of sexual stimulation, or
- disclose an image taken while invading the person’s privacy.
Note that while revenge porn could lead to a domestic violence charge, in violation of ARS 13-3601, voyeurism cannot.
4.2 Surreptitious photographing – ARS 13-3019
Per ARS 13-3019, surreptitious photographing is the crime where a person, under certain circumstances, secretly records or views a person.
As with revenge porn, a person is also guilty under this statute of he/she discloses an image that is taken while secretly viewing the “victim.” However, unlike revenge porn, this disclosure does not have to be made with an intent to harass, harm, or threaten. The disclosure alone is what violates the law.
4.3 Extortion – ARS 13-1804
Per ARS 13-1804, extortion is the crime where people take or try to take another person’s property by threatening to do some future act (like break the “victim’s” arm). Note that people do not have to cause physical injury to be guilty of this offense. The act of threatening harm is what matters.
Arizona law treats extortion as a more severe crime than revenge porn. A violation of ARS 13-1804 can lead to a Class 2 felony charge punishable by over 12 years in state prison.
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer, we invite you to contact our law firm at the Shouse Law Group. Our legal team provides both free consultations and legal advice you can trust.
- Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1425A1-3. Note that this statute is a relatively new law. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey agreed to the law in 2016. Lawmakers passed legislation giving rise to the statute to replace a 2014 law that was put on hold by a federal court because of a first amendment challenge.
- A.R.S. 13-1425D5.
- ARS 13-1425D4.
- ARS 13-1425B.
- ARS 13-1425C.
- ARS 13-1425C1.
- ARS 13-1425D2.
- ARS 13-1425C2.