New Hampshire Cyber Flashing Laws
In a previous blog post we talked about New Hampshire Senate Bill 306. It’s one of many new laws that went into effect on January first. Another law, a so-called “cyber flashing” law, also went into effect. This law updates New Hampshire’s indecent exposure law to include the transmission or sending of unsolicited lewd images to a person as indecent exposure.
Consent is a topic that’s been in the news quite a bit in the last five years or so, and for good reason. With technology giving everyone more outlets to communicate, it’s easy for people to harass and manipulate others. Unwanted communication is a problem now more than ever. And while sexting can be fun between two consenting adults, it’s downright draining, offensive, and violating to those who receive explicit images without asking.
Technology is a part of life, there’s no denying it. We work on our phones, interact with people on phones, and even find people to date and marry on apps. The law has to be able to adapt to technology.
The new “cyber flashing” law that went into effect makes law what we believe should be common sense: sending unsolicited explicit photos to a person can be classified as indecent exposure.
House Bill 1388-FN reads:
“AN ACT relative to the unsolicited disclosure of an intimate image.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
196:1 Public Indecency; Indecent Exposure and Lewdness. Amend RSA 645:1, I to read as follows:
- A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if:
(a) Such person fornicates, exposes his or her genitals, or performs any other act of gross lewdness under circumstances which he or she should know will likely cause affront or alarm; or
(b) Such person knowingly transmits to another, who is 16 years of age or older, an image of himself or herself fornicating, exposing his or her genitals, or performing any other act of gross lewdness, when the recipient does not consent to receipt of the image.
196:2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2023.”
According to violence prevention educator Emily Murphy “Consent is a big part, whether it’s in person or not in person, and making sure of the idea of respecting other people’s bodily autonomy and the idea of ‘my body belongs to me. The idea of sending naked images of yourself has been normalized by adults. For pre-teens and teens, they almost think it’s like flirting even though it’s definitely not flirting.”
The update signed by Governor Chris Sununu makes “cyberflashing” a misdemeanor. It amends existing New Hampshire public indecency, indecent exposure, and lew exposure legislation (which already makes flashing and lewd exposure a crime in person) and applies it to digital communications. Sending an unsolicited lewd image will now be treated the same as “flashing” someone in person. Sending lewd images to someone under 16 is already a felony, so this law applies specifically to those who are age 16 or older.
It is important to point out that a conviction for indecent exposure requirest that the defendant be placed on the sex offender registry. This will apply for cyber flashers as well.
According to a Pew Research Center study, 53% of women ages 18 to 29 say they’ve received unsolicited explicit images. This type of behavior has been a misdemeanor in Texas since 2019, and other states like California have also introduced similar legislation.
This bill has been supported by organizations like New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual violence and is a major step forward in the empowerment of individuals. It makes it much harder for both men and women to harass each other without consequence.
When new laws come into effect, it’s critical that citizens are aware of what that means and how it may impact their lives (both good and bad). All people should be aware of their rights and how laws protect them.
Do you have legal concerns? Contact our experienced New Hampshire attorneys for help understanding how the law may or may not affect your current situation and how we can help you reach a favorable outcome.