Revenge porn is illegal in California -- here's what could happen to Rob Kardashian for tweeting explicit photos of his ex

Revenge porn is illegal in California, which means Rob Kardashian could face jail time and fines for posting illicit pictures of his ex Blac Chyna on Twitter early Wednesday.

The reality TV star prompted widespread outrage on Wednesday after he tweeted several sexually explicit pictures of Chyna, the model with whom he has a 7-month old child.

Digital harassment laws are relatively new. Today, 38 states plus Washington D.C. have something on the books to charge people who use social media to spread sexually explicit photos or videos without the consent of the person featured.

In California, where Kardashian lives, there are a variety of legal consequences that Kardashian could face as a result of his actions, including the potential of a restraining order that could cause him to lose custody of his daughter.

Business Insider spoke with two lawyers about what legal actions are available to Chyna, as well as other victims of digital harassment in the state of California.

See photos of Rob Kardashaian and Blac Chyna together:

23 PHOTOS
Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna together
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Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna together
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 14: Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna are seen on April 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by XPX/Star Max/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 14: Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna are seen on April 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by XPX/Star Max/GC Images)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 27: Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian at Onyx Nightclub on March 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 27: Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna at Onyx Nightclub on March 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 27: Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian at Onyx Nightclub on March 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 27: Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian at Onyx Nightclub on March 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 18: Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna are seen at LAX on April 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 26: Kim Kardashian, Rob Kardashian, and Blac Chyna are seen on April 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 26: Kim Kardashian, Rob Kardashian, and Blac Chyna are seen on April 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 14: Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna are seen at LAX Airport in Los Angeles, Ca on March 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Light Brigade/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 27: Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian at Onyx Nightclub on March 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 27: Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna at Onyx Nightclub on March 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 14: Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna is seen at LAX on March 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
ROB & CHYNA -- Season:1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rob Kardashian, Blac Chyna -- (Photo by: Tommy Garcia/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 28: Television personality Rob Kardashian (L) and model Blac Chyna attend the Sky Beach Club at the Tropicana Las Vegas on May 28, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 28: Model Blac Chyna (L) and television personality Rob Kardashian attend the Sky Beach Club at the Tropicana Las Vegas on May 28, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 28: Television personality Rob Kardashian (L) and model Blac Chyna attend the Sky Beach Club at the Tropicana Las Vegas on May 28, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 10: Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian attend Blac Chyna's birthday celebration and unveiling of her 'Chymoji' Emoji Collection at Hard Rock Cafe on May 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 10: Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian attend Blac Chyna's birthday celebration and unveiling of her 'Chymoji' Emoji Collection at Hard Rock Cafe on May 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 10: Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna arrive at her Blac Chyna Birthday Celebration And Unveiling Of Her 'Chymoji' Emoji Collection at the Hard Rock Cafe on May 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 10: Blac Chyna (L) and Rob Kardashian arrive for her Blac Chyna's birthday celebration and unveiling of her 'Chymoji' Emoji Collection at Hard Rock Cafe, Hollywood, CA on May 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 10: Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna arrive at her Blac Chyna Birthday Celebration And Unveiling Of Her 'Chymoji' Emoji Collection at the Hard Rock Cafe on May 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)
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Here's the deal:

Criminal Court

While digital harassment is a familiar concept in today's internet landscape, revenge porn has only been criminalized under California law since 2013, and it wasn't until 2014 that anyone was charged under the law.

Under California Penal Code 647(j)(4), Chyna can file a police report, but the charges would have to be brought on by the state. It is up to the police department to recommend the case to the district attorney, who then decides if the state pursues criminal charges using taxpayer money.

Under this law, it is illegal to distribute sexual images or videos of someone without their consent, so long as it is intended to cause serious emotional distress and so long as the person depicted experiences distress.

"The issue will be establishing that he knew or should have known it would cause her distress and that she actually suffered emotional distress as a result," said Meaghan Zore, a California attorney who specializes in technology policy. "Based on the comments he posted alongside the images/videos, it certainly seems that he intended to cause her emotional distress."

While conversationally known as revenge porn, the distribution of such images is legally considered disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor.

Potential penalty: For a first misdemeanor offense, a perpetrator would face up to 6 months in jail and/or a $1,ooo fine, according to Zore. If the victim is a minor—which Chyna is not—or if the perpetrator has prior convictions for revenge porn, the punishment may be increased to a year in jail or a $2,000 fine.

"What's important to note in these situations is that $1,000—especially for someone of his wealth— is really nothing and will likely have zero impact on Kardashian," Zore said. "However, the potential emotional harm from a revenge porn incident for some victims can be life changing...Unfortunately, many still view it as a victimless crime. It most certainly is not."

See photos of Blac Chyna:

24 PHOTOS
Blac Chyna out and about
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Blac Chyna out and about
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 10: Blac Chyna is seen leaving the LA Superior Courthouse after receiving a temporary restraining order against Rob Kardashian on July 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 10: (L-R) Lisa Bloom, Blac Chyna and Walter Mosley speak during a pre-court hearing press conference at Los Angeles Superior Court on July 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Blac Chyna attends the 2017 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Blac Chyna arrives at the 2017 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Model Blac Chyna arrives at The 2017 MAXIM Hot 100 Party at Hollywood Palladium on June 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Model Blac Chyna arrives at The 2017 MAXIM Hot 100 Party at Hollywood Palladium on June 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Blac Chyna, shoe detail, attends The 2017 MAXIM Hot 100 Party, produced by Karma International, at The Hollywood Palladium in celebration of MAXIM� Hot 100 List on Saturday, June 24th, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Blac Chyna attends The 2017 MAXIM Hot 100 Party, produced by Karma International, at The Hollywood Palladium in celebration of MAXIM� Hot 100 List on Saturday, June 24th, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Blac Chyna (C), fashion detail, at the 2017 BET Awards at Microsoft Square on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Blac Chyna at the 2017 BET Awards at Microsoft Square on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Blac Chyna attends the 2017 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 07: Blac Chyna is seen at LAX on May 07, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by starzfly/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 06: Model Blac Chyna hosts a pool party at the Sapphire Pool & Day Club on May 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ ? APRIL 29: Blac Chyna hosts The Pool After Dark at Harrah's Resort on Saturday April 29, 2017 in Atlantic City, New Jersey (Photo by Tom Briglia/ WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 11: Model Blac Chyna arrives at Nickelodeon's 2017 Kids' Choice Awards at USC Galen Center on March 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Blac Chyna seen out in Manhattan on April 16, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 11: King Cairo Stevenson and model Blac Chyna at Nickelodeon's 2017 Kids' Choice Awards at USC Galen Center on March 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: Model Blac Chyna arrives at 1 OAK Nightclub at The Mirage Hotel & Casino on January 8, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 01: Model Blac Chyna is seen on October 1, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JMA/Star Max/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 01: Model Blac Chyna attends the Amber Rose SlutWalk 2016 at Pershing Square on October 1, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Blac Chyna is seen at LAX on June 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by BG008/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 28: Television personality Rob Kardashian (L) and model Blac Chyna attend the Sky Beach Club at the Tropicana Las Vegas on May 28, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 28: Television personality Rob Kardashian (L) and model Blac Chyna attend the Sky Beach Club at the Tropicana Las Vegas on May 28, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
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Civil Court

Another option is for Chyna to take Kardashian to civil court. She could sue him under California civil code 1708.85, which similarly deals with the nonconsensual distribution of sexual materials that cause harm to the depicted party.

Unlike the criminal route, the civil code does not require that the person distributing the materials intended to harm the depicted party. It's generally less challenging to prove in court. It also means that damages would be paid to Chyna and her lawyers, rather than the state.

"These cases are worth a lot of money," said Erica Johnstone, a lawyer who specializes in representing people who have been harmed through the use of technology.

Potential penalty: Unlike the $1,000 criminal fine, the damages in civil cases can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

In addition to a financial settlement, Chyna could get "injunctive relief," which would legally prohibit Kardashian from posting such photos in the future. Mischa Barton settled a similar case in court this June.

Johnstone said that while Chyna could take Kardashian all the way to a jury trial, most of these cases are settled before they get that far.

See photos of Rob Kardashian:

23 PHOTOS
Rob Kardashian
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Rob Kardashian
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 25: Television personality Rob Kardashian arrives at 1 OAK Nightclub at The Mirage Hotel & Casino for a Memorial Day weekend celebration on May 25, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steven Lawton/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 01: Rob Kardashian is seen on April 01, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 3: Rob Kardashian arrives at the 2012 Miss USA pageant the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on June 3, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 25: Rob Kardashian poses for photos with fans during his new Arthur George by Rob Kardashian sock collection unveiling at Neiman Marcus on May 25, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 16: Rob Kardashian and Kris Jenner during Rob Kardashian's Arthur George Street sock line launch at Kardashian Khaos at The Mirage Hotel & Casino on March 16, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 15: Rob Kardashian and Kris Jenner arrive at Rob Kardashian's 26th birthday celebration at 1 OAK Nightclub at The Mirage Hotel & Casino on March 15, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - DECEMBER 10: Rob Kardashian presents his Arthur George Socks Collection at Neiman Marcus Bal Harbour at Neiman Marcus on December 10, 2012 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - DECEMBER 10: Rob Kardashian presents his Arthur George Socks Collection at Neiman Marcus Bal Harbour at Neiman Marcus on December 10, 2012 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30: Rob Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian Odom of 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' attend E! 2012 Upfront at NYC Gotham Hall on April 30, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/E/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images for E!)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 21: Rob Kardashian is seen on March 21, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 01: Rob Kardashian is seen on April 01, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 01: Rob Kardashian is seen on April 01, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 16: Television personality Rob Kardashian makes an appearance at the Kardashian Khaos store at the Mirage Hotel and Casino on March 16, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 15: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Rob Kardashian (R) celebrates his 26th birthday with his mom Kris Jenner (R) at 1 OAK Nightclub at The Mirage Hotel & Casino on March 15, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - DECEMBER 10: Rob Kardashian and Neiman Marcus General Manager Frances Esquenazi present Arthur George Socks Collection at Neiman Marcus Bal Harbour at Neiman Marcus on December 10, 2012 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: Brody Jenner (L) and Rob Kardashian take pictures with fans while hosting The Pool After Dark at Harrah's Resort on Saturday September 29, 2012 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Tom Briglia/FilmMagic)
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - OCTOBER 27: Rob Kardashian and American socialite and model Kylie Jenner showcase designs by Human on the runway on day five of Philippine Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013 on October 27, 2012 in Manila, Philippines. (Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images)
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - OCTOBER 27: Rob Kardashian and American socialite and model Kylie Jenner showcase designs by Human on the runway on day five of Philippine Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013 on October 27, 2012 in Manila, Philippines. (Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 19: Rob Kardashian is seen strolling on September 19, 2012 in Paris, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30: (L-R) Rob Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian Odom and Lamar Odom of Keeping Up With The Kardashians attend 2012 E! Upfront at Gotham Hall on April 30, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 16: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Kris Jenner, Rob Kardashian and Kim Kardashian celebrate Rob Kardashian's birthday at 1 Oak on March 16, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 16: Kris Jenner, Rob Kardashian and Kim Kardashian walk the red carpet at 1 Oak on March 16, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mindy Small/FilmMagic)
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Family Court

Perhaps Chyna's best option is to pursue charges under the family code, according to Johnstone. Since Chyna and Kardashian had a previous relationship, revenge porn is considered "abuse" under California's Domestic Violence Prevention Act, Family Code 6203(4).

Under this statute, Chyna could file for a restraining order, and Kardashian could lose a future custody battle over their daughter, Dream.

"If I were her lawyer, I would get a domestic violence restraining order and work it out by settlement agreement," Johnstone said.

When such charges are filed, a judge issues a same day restraining order and a hearing is scheduled for three weeks out to figure out a longer term solution.

Potential penalty: If "abuse" is determined, it can be used in custody hearings, according to WithoutMyConsent.org. Perpetrator of "abuse" cannot get sole or joint legal or physical custody a child.

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SEE ALSO: Twitter let a celebrity with millions of followers post revenge porn for 30 minutes before it was taken down


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