Revenge Porn in Wisconsin

We’ve all heard the term used in the media – revenge porn.  But what is it and how does the law criminalize the conduct in Wisconsin?  This post examines the law against revenge porn and the penalties associated with the crime in Wisconsin.

The Law

The revenge porn statute is codified in Wis. Stat. Sec 942.09 – Representations Depicting Nudity.  Specifically, 942.09(3m) provides that anyone who posts, publishes, or causes to be posted or published, a private representation if the actor knows that the person depicted does not consent to the posting or publication of the private representation, OR posts, publishes, or causes to be posted or published, a depiction of a person that he or she knows is a private representation, without the consent of the person depicted is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.  However, if the person depicted or represented is under 18 years old, then the offender is guilty of a Class I felony.

A “representation” as used in this section will typically mean a photograph, motion picture, recording, or video.  A “private representation” as used in this section has three parts.  First, it means one of the following:

  • a representation depicting a nude or partially nude person,
  • a representation depicting a person engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Second, the person depicted in the representation consented to the capture of the representation.  Third, the person depicted intentionally gave possession of the representation to another, or consented to the capture of the representation.

Revenge Porn In Reality

So what does the law actually mean in plain English and why is it called revenge porn?  In today’s digital world, consenting adults sometimes share nude images with each other.  If the person depicted in the image intends for the image to be viewed only by the person it is shared with, and then that person shares it with others, then this law comes into play.  For example, your ex posts nude images of you on the internet for the world to see, and you only intended for your ex to view those images.  This is called revenge porn because the theory is that the ex is getting revenge by posting nude images.

What about if the person is under 18?  Minors cannot legally consent – see Wis. Stat. Sec. 942.09(1)(ae) – “A person who has not attained the age of 18 is incapable of consent.”  This means that even if, in theory, a minor sends a nude image to another minor and that image is shared online, it would be a violation of this statute because minors cannot consent to the sharing of these images.

What About Parents?

The revenge porn statute does not apply to parents who capture an image of nudity of their child and share it with others, so long as the representation does not violate Wis. Stat Sec. 948.05 (sexual exploitation of a child) or Wis. Stat. Sec. 948.12 (possession of child pornography).  The posting must also not be for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, humiliation, degradation, or monetary or commercial gain.  So those embarrassing photographs of children taking their first bath would not constitute a violation of the revenge porn statute.

Facing Charges?

If you are facing charges involving revenge porn, you need an experienced attorney.  Our attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. have the expertise in handling cases involving nude representations and depictions of individuals who allegedly did not consent.  Call one of us today for a free consultation!