Sexting laws provide legal penalties for "sexting". Sexing is defined as the sending of illicit pictures or messages of a sexual nature between electronic devices. This usually implies that the person sending the pictures is sending explicit pictures of themselves through various means, including:
- Cell phone text messaging
- Cyber chat
- Social media websites
- Various other means of electronic communication
Sexting is classified as a crime that can result in various legal penalties. The penalties often depend on the nature of the act. In particular, the age of the persons involved is usually a main focus due to the concerns regarding child pornography and other related charges.
In most states, sexting is considered a felony if images of minors (persons under the age of 18) are received or are in the possession of an adult. This results in charges of, or similar to possession of child pornography. There is some debate as to whether the charges would change if the recipient of such images is also a minor.
Lastly, there is also debate as to whether criminal charges would lie if both the sender and recipient have consented to such communications. Currently, even consensual sexting communications between minors is considered to be at least a misdemeanor charge (it can still be a felony in some jurisdictions).
In addition to the consequences that are directly linked to sexting charges, many other legal issues can involve sexting. These include:
- Defamation and slander: this is especially common among younger persons in school who have had their reputation tarnished by unauthorized distributions of lewd pictures through mass e-mails or texts
- Cyber bullying: this can also happen if the images get distributed to other peers without the person’s consent
- Stalking: There have been issues with adults stalking minors after receiving or getting a hold of illicit sext messages
Lastly, sexting laws can also work the other way around- for instance, harassment charges can result if a person is constantly sexting another person with the intention of harassing them.
Sexting can result in some very serious legal and criminal consequences. It’s in your best interests to hire a criminal lawyer if you’re facing criminal charges. Your attorney can provide you with legal representation and defense strategies for your case. Also, your lawyer may be able to determine which defenses might apply to a particular case.