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Revenge Porn in Wisconsin

How do Wisconsin prosecutors deal with revenge porn?

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?  Although this charge seems straightforward, it can be confusing.  Consequently, criminal defense attorney Ben Van Severen discussed the charge and its consequences.

Were you charged with a pornography or sexual assault case?  Contact Meyer Van Severen at (414) 270-0202.

revenge porn in Wisconsin
Revenge porn is illegal in Wisconsin.

The law

The revenge porn statute is codified in Wis. Stat. Sec 942.09 – Representations Depicting Nudity.  Specifically, 942.09(3m) provides:

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.

Secondly, 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? Why is it called revenge porn?  In today’s digital world, consenting adults sometimes share nude images with each other.

These activities become illegal when:

  1. The person depicted intends that the image only be shared with one person; and
  2. That person instead shares the picture with others.

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.  The images are pornography.  The pornography is posted as a means of revenge.  Combining these principles yields the title: revenge porn.

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.”  Accordingly, if a minor sends a nude image to another, and that image is shared online, it is a violation of this statute.


What about the parents?

The revenge porn statute does not apply to parents who capture an image of nudity of their child and share it with others.  This applies 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).  Also, the posting must 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 wouldn’t constitute a violation of the revenge porn statute.


Facing charges involving pornography or sexual assault?

If you’re facing charges involving revenge porn, you need a top criminal defense attorney.  The defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. have the expertise necessary to defend you.  Without a doubt, we’ve handled many cases pornography and sexual assault.  Contact Meyer Van Severen at (414) 270-0202 for help.  Above all, hiring a top criminal defense attorney is the most important first step to take in defending these cases.

Attorney Ben Van Severen