Understanding Arkansas law on distributing sexual images

In a previous post, we talked about when it's illegal to distribute sexual photos or recordings of another person that were taken without their consent. Today, we look at a different type of crime involving images or videos that were taken consensually.

Let's say you're a 19-year-old college student. You and your girlfriend-who's also 19-decide to take nude photos together. You take the photos on your phone, and then you email the photos to her as well. So far so good-no legal issue.

However, let's say a month later, your girlfriend breaks up with you to start dating another guy. You're angry, and you want revenge. In an effort to shame her, you send the nude photos of your ex to all of her friends. The above could be an example of unlawful distribution of sexual images.

What is the unlawful distribution of sexual images?

Under Ark. Code § 5-26-314, if you are 18 years of age or older have a sexually explicit image or recording of a person with whom you have had dating relationship, or of a member of your family/household, then you may not distribute that image or recording with the intent of:

· Harassing,

· Frightening,

· Intimidating,

· Threatening or

· Abusing another person.


The state of Arkansas views the above crime as a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by as much as:

· 1 year in jail and/or

· $2,500 in fines

Unacceptable defenses

To be convicted of this crime, matters of consent and personal property don't come into play. If your girlfriend gave consent to having the nude pictures taken, you can't claim this as a defense. Claiming that the photos are your personal property is also an unacceptable defense to this crime.

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