Amid a national push to punish jilted lovers and others who distribute racy photos, NFL linebacker Jermaine Cunningham will be the most recognizable defendant yet to face "revenge porn" charges when he appears in court Wednesday.

The decade-old New Jersey law being used to prosecute Cunningham was the first of its kind in the country, and 16 more states have passed laws since, including 14 in the past two years. At least 10 additional legislatures are considering revenge porn laws.

Federal legislation is also expected to be introduced this year even as some detractors of the laws warn that advocates are overreaching into territory that could be protected as First Amendment expression.

The movement to criminalize an action that can lead to lost jobs and ruined lives gained steam as ubiquitous cellphone cameras and online social networks eased the way for sharing anything from the mundane to the most personal.

"Your most private, intimate moment (is) turned into entertainment for thousands, for millions of people," said Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at the University of Miami.

Cunningham, a free agent who was with the New York Jets last year, was arrested in December after sending naked pictures of a woman to the victim's friends and family following a "domestic incident" in the community of Summit, New Jersey, according to a criminal complaint. Prosecutors wouldn't elaborate on the circumstances leading to the charges.

His lawyer, Anthony Fusco, said he believes Cunningham will be "exonerated on all charges," which include invasion of privacy and a gun offense.

Cunningham is scheduled for a plea disposition conference on Wednesday in Elizabeth.

Without laws against revenge porn, advocates say, victims have few outlets to scrub the photos from the Internet because they were usually taken with the victims' consent — or by the victims themselves.

Rebekah Wells, of Naples, Florida, founded the website Women Against Revenge Porn after searching her name on Google in 2010 and finding a gallery of nude photos she says were posted by an ex-boyfriend.

"All of the sudden, you're just anxious about everything," said Wells, 38, whose case is not connected to Cunningham's. "It touches every part of your life: your job, your family, your friends. You're not insulated from anything."

Victims can find it hard to get or maintain a job if employers search their names online, meaning the photos can make their "whole world start to fall apart," Franks said.

"What we see is a lot of depression and trauma," Franks said of the victims. "A lot exhibit signs of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)."

Although Cunningham may be the most well-known "revenge porn" defendant, he's not the first to be prosecuted under the new crop of laws. A Los Angeles man was sentenced to a year in prison last year for posting a topless photo of his ex on her employer's website and urging that she be fired.

In Seattle, a man was convicted of cyberstalking for posting photos of nude women and threatening to send them to one woman's family if she didn't give in to his sexual demands. One photo with another victim's phone number was posted on Craigslist in a fake ad seeking sex with older men.

The laws are receiving more support nationwide, and Facebook, Twitter and Reddit recently banned nonconsensual sexual images and videos.

But some have questioned the validity of the laws. Arizona's was put on hold in November after civil liberties groups sued.

Lee Rowland, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, said any laws should spell out the malicious intent of revenge porn to protect against overreaching legislation.

"That specific intent is so critical when the government is regulating what would otherwise be completely lawful (content)," Rowland said. Cases of revenge porn, she said, could be taken care of in some circumstances through anti-harassment or anti-stalking laws already on the books.

Franks said they're working to make sure the laws don't infringe on constitutional rights, but "get the bad guys who are doing this."