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First Responder Can Be Charged for Photographing Victims


W. Va. Code § 61-8-30 or “Jonathan’s Law” makes it illegal for first responders who are present at a motor vehicle accident or other emergency situation to photograph, film, videotape, record, or otherwise reproduce the image of a human corpse or a person being provided medical care or assistance.

There is an exception for legitimate law-enforcement purposes, public safety, health care, legal investigation, or legal proceeding. Interesting, the statute also contains an exception for insurance purposes.

Disclosure of visual depictions of such persons, without the prior written consent of the injured person or their next-of-kin, is also unlawful.

Any person who violates this statute is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to a $50 to $500 fine for a first offense. A second offense carries a penalty of jail for 24 hours and $100 to $750 fine. A third offense carries a penalty of jail for 24 hours to six months and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000.