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Politics & Government

Lawmakers May Take Up Revenge Porn Bill

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MAD FISH DIGITAL / CREATIVE COMMONS ATTRIBUTION 2.0 GENERIC
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A bill that would make sharing what's known as revenge porn illegal may once again have its shot in front of lawmakers this session.

If passed, House Bill 48 would make the unlawful dissemination of an intimate image a misdemeanor and punishable with up to a $1,000 fine and/or six months of jail time.

An example of the situation would be an ex-partner sharing an intimate photograph on social media without the consent of the other partner.

Wyoming is one of a small handful of states that do not have a revenge porn law on the books.

"The purpose here is to fill a loophole in the current law," Rock Springs Rep. Clark Stith, the bill's sponsor, said.

Stith, an attorney, said he thought of drafting the bill after working on a case in which his clients had been prosecuted for a crime that was similar to a revenge porn case. But they were charged under different statutes, like voyeurism and aggravated blackmail, which didn't exactly fit the situation.

"As a result, my client in that case did no jail time at all. On the one hand, as a lawyer, that looks like a good result for the client. On the other hand, the victim in the case might not have thought that was justice," he said.

A similar bill, which had harsher punishments like the potential for it to be a felony on a second offense, had previously been brought up in 2016 but it failed to make it out of committee.

Stith said he kept the proposed bill's language simple and didn't want to immediately propose a new felony.

"I expect there may be proposed amendments on either the House floor or in the Senate chamber, and I wouldn't necessarily oppose that," he said. "But when you're talking about creating new felonies, that implicates potentially a greater workload on prosecutors, on public defenders and on our prison system."

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu

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