Longview, TX asked in Criminal Law, Internet Law and Juvenile Law for Colorado

Q: How can a person be charged for sharing a private photo if the person sent it consentually

If a person takes a provocative photo and posts online or sends it to multiple people how can they down the road decide to press charges on one of the recipients for sharing the photo? My sisters Son received a photo of his friend as did many others via social media. Months later he sent it to someone who had previously already received it. The person in the photo found out and was in a feud with her Son just prior. They called police. He was charged with 'sharing private photo.' How is the photo private if the person sent it out to people and posted online and how can he be charged ?

1 Lawyer Answer
Andrew John Contiguglia
Andrew John Contiguglia
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Denver, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: You’ve asked a number of different quests over a few different posts. i will try to compound everything in to one answer to you don’t have to go to multiple places to get an answers.

Warrants are based on a very low legal standard called “probable cause.” There is no requirement that a police officer speak to an accused before getting a warrant. And if the accused was my client, i would say not to speak to the police anyway. So, really all that is needed is someone stating that he/she has been the victim of a crime. If there is any form of corroborating evidence, like another kid who was sent a buttock picture from your friend’s son, that would likely be enough. The interview stage is a great opportunity for the police to get the kid to confess, making their job that much easier. There’s much less to prove when you have a confession.

Now, getting in to the substance of the case, you raise an interesting point about privacy. If the image was shared around originally, then there might not be a privacy issue at play. But, this will be very factually specific. People can give consent to certain amounts of privacy and not others. Which means, for example, you can use the photo for your own personal reasons, but you can’t share it with your friends. And who knows what people are saying or what exactly the police are investigating. No one will know until the reports are reviewed.

Then there begs the obvious question, if this picture had images of someone under the age of 18, then that is possession and distribution of child pornography, which is a whole event animal.

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