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When is Sexting Illegal?

Posted in Criminal Defense,Sex Crimes on December 26, 2019

You have undoubtedly heard the phrase “sexting” by now. You may have a general idea of what the term means. “Sexting” is a word made from the combination of the words “sex” and “texting,” M refers to the sending and receiving of sexually explicit messages from one person to another through electronic means. This can include messages sent through cell phone texts, other messaging apps, over social media, and in emails. Sexting can include sending and receiving nude photographs as well as only words that are meant to be sexually explicit.

As technology has expanded, so has the prevalence of sexting. It is important to note that sexting, in certain situations, is illegal.

What makes sexting illegal?

Instances in which sexting may be considered illegal could include:

  • Distribution without Permission. Commonly classified as “revenge porn,” it is illegal to send out nude photographs of another person without their consent. Doing so could result in criminal charges. Even if a victim originally gives consent to have photographs taken or sends them to somebody, this does not make it okay for them to be distributed without their consent.
  • Child Pornography or Exposing a Minor to Explicit Material. When sexting involves underage children, it is most likely going to be illegal. If a person who is above the age of consent ends up in possession of photos of a minor, they could be charged with possession of child pornography. If an adult sends images to a minor, or solicits photographs from a minor, they could be charged with child pornography.
  • Harassment, Bullying, and Stalking. Sexting is commonly linked to other issues such as stalking, harassment, and cyberbullying. There have been many instances of sexual images being distributed without a person’s consent. It is illegal to use sexting to harass, stalk, or bully anyone, whether that person is a minor or an adult.
  • Sexting in the Workplace. Sexting in the workplace could trigger issues relating to sexual harassment. Most employers have policies in place to prevent workplace sexual harassment. If an employee receives unwanted sexual texts, their harasser could face a range of consequences including being written up, getting fired, or even criminal charges.

What are the penalties associated with sexting?

There are various penalties that can be applied to instances of illegal sexting. These penalties will depend on what type of charges a person is facing. Some possible penalties for sexting include:

  • jail or prison time
  • fines
  • probation
  • community service
  • mandatory counseling
  • employment consequences such as demotion or termination
  • possible placement on the sex offender registry if convicted of a sex crime

Can a child get in trouble for sexting another child?

While it is generally understood but sexting between an adult and a minor is illegal, what about sexting between two consenting minors?

It is illegal in California to produce, possess, or distribute obscene matter of a child under the age of 18. Anyone who is in possession of a sexually explicit image of someone under the age of 18, whether they are the one who took the photo, sent it as a text, or are just in possession of the image, can be prosecuted under child pornography laws.

This law applies to minors as well as adults. While most teenagers caught sexting will not face the harshest consequences under the law, they could still very well face some sort of legal consequences.

If you were accused of any of the actions above, criminal defense attorney, Graham Donath is here to help. He will fight for your legal rights. Call our Riverside County office today for a free consultation