Sending explicit pictures through text — often called “sexting” — is something that many couples engage in at all ages. But will this practice put you in danger of violating the law? Could you inadvertently send an illegal picture and find yourself facing criminal charges?
Age and consent have a big effect on whether explicit texting is legal
There are two things that perhaps matter most in these cases: Age and consent. They can determine if the action was legal or not.
As far as age goes, it’s important for those sending (and receiving) these messages to both be adults. This is a problem because studies have found that around 25% of teens engage in this practice. That’s where you can run into real issues regarding child pornography and sending explicit photos to minors. Clearly, the biggest issue is when an adult is texting someone who is underage. Doing so can certainly be illegal, even if the adult is in a relationship with the minor and has their permission to send the photos.
When two adults are involved, sexting is generally legal, but a lack of consent can mean that it is not. These types of pictures should never be sent to someone in an unsolicited manner — such as using them as a way to ask someone out on a date. Even when the pictures are from a legal adult and being received by a legal adult, they could constitute harassment or abuse if they’re not wanted.
What are your rights if you’re charged with a crime over an explicit text message?
If sending the wrong text get you in legal trouble, it’s very important to know what rights you have. These allegations can change your life, and you absolutely need legal guidance before you take another step.