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The council tasked with ensuring consistency in criminal sentences in England and Wales has provided instruction on how courts should handle revenge porn cases: harshly.

The Sentencing Council published on Thursday new guidelines on how courts should handle perpetrators who non-consensually share photos of their ex-partners. It’s the first time the committee has addressed the crime.

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These guidelines also cover other “intimidatory” offenses, including harassment, stalking, death threats, and controlling behavior. But the section about “private sexual images” includes determinants that should lead to harsher punishment. After an analysis found that many “revenge porn” offenders repeatedly published photos after the images had been removed, the Council decided to urge courts to give the harshest sentences to repeat posters.

The council also determined that people who set up fake social media accounts and websites for their exes, and who solicit contact and comments, should receive harsh punishment because this shows planning and an effort to bring about even more humiliation. These factors can determine higher culpability and increase chances of stronger discipline.

“Our guidelines recognize and reflect the very intimate, personal, and intrusive nature of these offenses, which can have devastating, often long-term impacts on victims and their families,” Sentencing Council member Judge Rosa Dean said in a public release. “They will provide courts with comprehensive guidance that will help ensure sentences reflect the seriousness of these offenses.”

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The Council stated that the guidelines will be used in England and Wales courts staring in October. The offense of revenge porn was first introduced in the countries in 2015.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., there has been slow progress with regards to revenge porn. A New York bill to make revenge porn punishable by law was killed last month, and Texas recently struck down a revenge porn law for being “over broad.”

[Sentencing Council/BBC]

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