Attorney: Va. 'revenge porn' bill makes bad manners a crime - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Attorney: Va. 'revenge porn' bill makes bad manners a crime

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Could a bill making "revenge porn" a crime punishable by jail time actually be unconstitutional?

The bill is now heading to Gov. Terry McAuliffe's desk, but critics say it's a case of lawmakers trying to legislate morality. 
"Revenge porn" is the practice of posting an ex-lover's naked photos online. The bill would make posting "revenge porn" online punishable by up to a year in jail.

"It's about time," said Richmond resident Anita Denny. "That's pretty good. That's going to stop a lot of people from doing that, and maybe it will stop people from sending those type of pictures also."

NBC 12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin says the law has flaws.

"We've made bad manners a crime," said Benjamin. "Because that's really all it is. The crime doesn't apply if you are licensed or authorized to disseminate the photograph. Now what in the world does that mean? I'm a lawyer, and I don't know."

We contacted the sponsor of the bill, Delegate Rob Bell, R-Albemarle.
"The damages are more than you can ever get back," said Delegate Bell. "That's the kind of thing where we look for criminal penalties. It is what we call a class one misdemeanor. It's the same as shoplifting or trespassing or assault and battery."

Benjamin says there are many legal questions.

"If this bill does pass into law," said Benjamin. "I think it will be struck as unconstitutional because one you can't understand it, and number two it's preventing people from doing something with their own property with a photograph that was taken with everyone's consent."

Delegate Bell says he expects the governor to sign the bill. Maryland lawmakers also passed a revenge porn bill in the House of Delegates. The punishment would be up to 2 years in prison and a $500 fine.

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