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Can Minors Face Criminal Charges for “Sexting” in Texas?

 Posted on June 13, 2023 in Criminal Defense

shutterstock_2238975551_20230613-161546_1.jpgIn a digital age where people use smartphones and other electronic devices constantly, "sexting" has become more common. People may exchange sexually explicit messages, photographs, videos, and other material through text messages, email, or social media. However, when minors engage in these activities, they could potentially face criminal charges, and if explicit photos or videos are sent to multiple people, this could even result in accusations related to the possession or distribution of child pornography. By understanding the legal consequences of sexting, parents and children can address concerns about these issues and determine what steps can be taken to address any accusations of criminal offenses.

Laws Addressing the Transmission of Visual Material Depicting Minors

In some cases, teenagers may make the mistake of sending sexually explicit messages and images of themselves or others without being fully aware of the consequences. These actions may start out as consensual activities between couples who are dating, but images or videos may be shared with others, and they could potentially be used to bully, harass, or threaten a child who is depicted. To address this issue and prevent explicit materials from being used inappropriately, Texas law has outlined situations where these actions may be considered crimes.

The offense of "electronic transmission of certain visual materials depicting minors" may apply if a minor under the age of 18 allegedly possessed sexually explicit images or videos of another minor or distributed materials depicting themselves or other minors to others. Applicable visual materials include anything that could be considered child pornography, including images or videos of sexual intercourse, sexual contact, or nudity.

Possessing or distributing these types of materials may result in Class C misdemeanor charges for a first offense. However, if a minor sent sexually explicit materials to others with the intent to embarrass, harass, or torment someone, they may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. A second offense may result in Class B misdemeanor charges, and a third offense (or a second offense involving harassment or abuse) will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor.

There are a number of defenses that may be used by minors who are accused of possessing or distributing these types of materials. A minor is allowed to possess materials depicting another minor who was within two years of their age, as long as the parties are in a dating relationship and the materials in question were not shown or sent to any other parties. A minor who is accused of possessing sexually explicit images or videos of another minor may defend against criminal charges by demonstrating that they did not produce the material in question, they only possessed the material after receiving it from another minor, and they deleted or destroyed the material within a reasonable amount of time after receiving it.

Contact Our Plano Child Pornography Lawyers

Even though sexting may not seem to be a serious issue, sharing inappropriate pictures or videos could lead to serious charges in some cases. If materials are shared with people over the age of 18, this could result in child pornography charges. In these situations, children, parents, or others who are accused of sharing sexually explicit materials will need to understand the laws that apply in their situation and the options for defending against criminal charges. At The Crowder Law Firm, P.C., our Dallas sex crime defense attorneys can provide representation in these cases, and we will work to ensure that children or others who are involved will be able to avoid serious penalties that could affect them for years to come or even the rest of their lives. To get legal help with your defense, contact us at 214-544-0061 and arrange a free consultation today.



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