SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Californians who find themselves on the receiving end of unwanted lewd messages can now sue senders, under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Cyber flashing is a term used to describe lewd photographs being sent electronically without the recipient’s consent. That act is now banned.
“Under California law now, once you’ve been cyber flashed, and you identify the person, you can file a civil suit,” Paula Canny, a criminal defense attorney, told KRON4 News.
California became the third state behind Texas and Virginia to prohibit the act.
The law now allows recipients to recover up to $30,000, as well as punitive damages and attorney’s fees from senders of obscene material who are older than 18.
Canny said though it will be addressed a civil lawsuit, there are elements of criminal activity in the act.
“Cyber flashing is much worse than indecent exposure,” Canny said. “They are targeting you as an individual; they know a specific person is going to get this image.
“There’s already in existence penal code sections that would criminalize that conduct,” she added.
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Canny said that depending on the nature of the messages there’s one thing to keep in mind if you’re a victim and considering filing a lawsuit.
“It allows you to get restraining orders; you can file and block the person but ironically sometimes in seeking restraining orders it increases contact with the very person you’re trying to get away from,” Canny said.
Senate Bill 53, also known as the Flash Act, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.