What are the Sexting Laws for Minors?

Sexting is a term derived from combining the words “sex” and “texting” and involves sending nude images or suggestive material via your cell phone. It can be a text message or an image that is sent via text. Sexting is not always illegal. Consenting adults can generally exchange sexually explicit images and messages without committing a sex crime. However, sexting amongst minors can be a state or federal crime. It could even violate child pornography laws.

More states are enacting specific laws for underage sexting. The majority of states that have enacted legislation criminalizing sexting, usually treat the charge as a misdemeanor criminal offense. A minor commits the act of sexting if they knowingly use a computer or electronic device to send photos that show nudity.

States without specific sexting laws may charge minors with possession of sexually explicit digital material. To prove this, a prosecutor must prove that one knowingly used an electronic device or digital media to: 1) Create, 2) Send, 3) Transmit, 4) Post, 5) Share and/or 5) Possess, any photograph, digital image, or visual depiction of nudity or a sexual act. To defend against these charges, your criminal defense attorney would need to argue that you did not request the digital content and took reasonable steps to report the content to the appropriate authorities. Furthermore, you would need to show that you did not further share or distribute the content.

Some states allow teens charged with sexting to participate in remedial education and counseling offered by the juvenile court as part of a diversion program which would result in a dismissal of charges. This is offered as an alternative to criminal prosecution.

The question that often arises is, what if a nude photo is sent to someone you’re in a relationship with? Or what if you receive sexts or explicit photos that you didn’t want? These issues often differ based on each states laws but most of these laws absolutely prohibit minors from sending or receiving sexual images of a minor. Some states even have laws making sexting illegal.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.

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