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Could it be legally problematic to keep pictures of an ex?

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2023 | Sex Offenses

When couples are together, it is common for them to take pictures and videos, some of which may be explicit or sexual in nature. When the couple breaks up, they will not necessarily delete all of these pictures. Each person may still have some on their devices, such as phones, hard drives, cloud storage and the like.

But could this become legally problematic, risking some serious charges, because that person would then have explicit pictures of someone they were not in a relationship with and were not related to? Could their ex even press criminal charges by saying that their pictures were being exposed without their consent?

Sharing the pictures is illegal

Every situation is unique, but legal problems typically come up if the person shares those photos or videos. 

This could be as simple as showing them to a coworker or a friend. It could also be as significant as posting them on social media or emailing them to a group of people in a deliberate action to expose the other person – perhaps out of spite after a messy breakup. These types of actions – or posting the pictures and videos online without the other person’s consent – could be a violation of revenge porn laws.

However, if the pictures are not shared, it’s typically not illegal to keep them. The person who has them either took them or was given them as a gift. They certainly have the option to delete them if they would like, but it is not illegal simply to keep the photos, as long as they were taken consensually. 

What could become illegal is what that person decides to do with them. That’s why people need to know about all of their defense options when facing serious allegations.