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What is Sextortion under California Law?

Jul 5, 2022 | Accident Claims

Sextortion is a serious crime in which a perpetrator threatens to publish private and explicit information or material about you (or to share it with your friends and family) unless you comply with their demands. The demand for sexual images, money, or sexual favors is common.

The goal of a sextortionist is to make you fear that he will share your private photos or videos online for all of your friends, family, and coworkers to see. Criminals use your fear to force you to pay them in exchange for not releasing your personal photos, videos, or other media.

Starting from 2018 California Penal Code amended the law on the criminalization of extortion and added points with regards to “sextortion” crime.

What is Extortion under California Penal Code Section 518?

Sextortion is a type of extortion that encompasses a wide range of behaviors. Sextortion, on the other hand, differs from most other forms of extortion in that it frequently involves threats of revealing the victim’s personal, intimate images or videos if individual will not pay.

The crime of extortion is defined as:

  • obtaining property (other considerations)/official act of public
  • with the person’s consent/under color of official right
  • induced by wrongful use of fear or force

Some sextortionists, on the other hand, use something as simple as a text message with your text messages and phone number. Victims who are in a monogamous relationship may find this information to be compromising.

What is Sextortion under California Law?

Under California’s extortion law, Penal Code 518, “sextortion” is a type of blackmail. The term “extortion” is defined in California law.

Sextortion is defined by obtaining:

  • an image of an intimate body part of the victim
  • demanding sexual conduct
  • by wrongful use of fear or force

In other words, sextortion is a form of extortion in cases in which the perpetrator threatens the victim to release information (mostly concerning intimate information on the victim) demanding money, or sexual favors, personal media.

What are Examples of Sextortion?

The fear of the victim that particular explicit information on him/her made public is the base of sextortion. So, the fear of the victim can affect him/her to make paying money or demanding other sexual favors.

Examples of acts of sextortion are webcam blackmail, web sextortion, etc.

Most social media websites (such as Facebook, Instagram, skype zoom, etc) enable us to chat with video cameras and, of course, send photos and videos. That is a convenient place for the harassers to find a potential victim.

Of course, the crime cannot happen immediately; first, the harasser shall win the victim’s trust, build relationships and then threaten to release compromises. Another convenient platform for the harasser is dating websites (Tinder, Match, etc). People, who often use such websites, are more vulnerable to share personal photos and media, or other information.

Tips to Protect Yourself from Sextortion

Avoiding sending explicit content to anyone else via phone, tablet, or computer is the easiest way to avoid sextortion. When someone asks you to send intimate photos or videos online, keep your wits (and a healthy dose of skepticism) about you. Sending intimate photos or video-chatting with someone you haven’t met in person is not a good idea.

Some examples of helpful tips can be:

  • setting social media to account private
  • not to open spam emails or messages
  •  keep all the conversations as evidence to further transfer them to law enforcement agencies
  • not to keep intimate content on your phone or computer
  • always report sextortion to the website, which stood as a platform for the crime to happen
  • not to send intimate content even if the person you chat with also sends such media

Glendale Personal Injury Lawyer

If you are being sextorted on the internet, then you may be entitled to compensation. If that is the case, contact our Glendale personal injury lawyer today for a consultation and case review. Please feel free to give our office a call at 310-933-5171.