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Reining in “Revenge Porn” in the Military

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Q: Is the wrongful distribution or broadcasting of intimate images by military members criminally punishable?

We’ve all heard the expression about those facing criminal charges having “the book thrown at them”. Well, for Navy and Marine Corps members “the book” just got a little bit bigger as the distribution of nude or intimate photos without permission has been added as a criminal offense violation of which may require a court-martial defense.

An interim update to the official book of Navy regulations prohibiting what’s known as “revenge porn” has been added in pending its next publication and applies to members of both the Navy and Marine Corps.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (“UCMJ”) already prohibits the taking and subsequent distribution of non-consensual filming or photographing of someone’s private areas—a practice also known as “indecent broadcasting”. The new regulation goes a step further and is aimed at maintaining the privacy of intimate images that in presumably happier times were taken with the subject’s consent and under the assumption that they would not be shared or distributed…especially in revenge.

According to the new regulation—enacted following a scandal wherein members of a Marines United Facebook group reportedly “circulated a hard drive filled with compromising photos of female service members” –prohibited behavior now includes “physical and electronic sharing of intimate photos without legal justification or cause and without knowledge of consent.”

Very often, the charges soldiers face in military court and the penalties assessed upon court-martial conviction are harsher than what they may face in a civilian court—if they even would be charged there at all. And even non-criminal military administrative actions can have life-altering ramifications if a soldier is administratively separated from the military on a less than honorable discharge.

When your career, reputation, and freedom are on the line, don’t trust your future to an often-overworked and inexperienced free court-appointed military defense attorney. 

If you are facing a court-martial for any crime or are facing an involuntary administrative separation, the experienced military criminal defense attorneys at Elkus, Sisson and Rosenstein in Colorado can help.  Call us at 719-247-3111 for a free consultation. From our offices in Denver and Colorado Springs, we provide worldwide representation to members of all ranks and in all branches, serving at home or abroad. 

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