Threatening to disclose private sexual photographs

22 September 2021

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

Please could I clarify something in relation to the offence specified in Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 (commonly referred to as 'revenge porn').

Is it an offence under this act simply to threaten to disclose private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress? Or does the offender have to disclose the images for the offence to be complete.

Answer:

Following amendments made by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 to section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 on the 29th June 2021, the offence under section 33 also includes threats to disclose.

Section 33(1) states:

33(1) A person commits an offence if -

(a) the person discloses, or threatens to disclose, a private sexual photograph or film in which another individual ('the relevant individual') appears,
(b) by so doing, the person intends to cause distress to that individual, and
(c) the disclosure is, or would be, made without the consent of that individual.

Please note however that it is not an offence for the person to disclose or threaten to disclose to the relevant individual. It is also not necessary for the prosecution to prove such a photograph or film exists, and if it does exist that it is a private sexual photograph or film.

Various defences are available for this offence and outlined in paragraphs (3), (4) & (5) which relate to being necessary for the purposes of preventing, detecting or investing crime, journalistic material and reasonable belief of previous disclosure for reward.

To read more legislation about this, login to the legal database. 

Back to Legal Questions