When is Sexting a Crime? | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys

Call (412) 281-2146 today

When is Sexting a Crime?

Now that virtually everyone has cell phones, more and more people are engaging in what is called sexting. Sexting involves texting nude or sexually provocative photos of oneself to another person. When done in the context of an adult relationship, it’s typically not a problem. However, when it is unwanted or minors are involved, sexting can become a crime.

If you are accused of a crime due to receiving and possessing sexts, get help from a Pittsburgh sex crimes lawyer. We will evaluate your situation and help you decide what steps to take next. Whether you need to protect yourself during an investigation or defend yourself in court, we can help. Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146.

Pennsylvania Teen Sexting Law

Sexting is not a crime only when it’s done between a teen and a much-older adult. Sexting is common in many high schools among peers and is still considered illegal.
In 2012, Pennsylvania legislators made it illegal to send sexually explicit images of a minor, even if those images were being sent by the person in the picture. The law specifically makes it illegal to:

  • Transmit, distribute, or share a text message or instant message containing nude images of any person 12 or older, but younger than 18
  • Possess a nude image of a person 12 or older, but younger than 18

Thus, not only is it a crime to send those sexts, but it is also illegal to possess them, even if they were sent by the person in the photo.

Age of Consent to Sexting

Age of consent is not considered in sexting. Although a person who is 17 may be able to consent to have sex, it is still illegal to send nude pictures to another person. It is also illegal to possess sexually explicit images of someone who is 17, even if you are having sex with that person with legal consent.

Taking or being in possession of pornographic photos featuring a person under age 18 is a crime, no matter what state you’re in. In some states, though, you can be 30, 40, 50, even 60 years old and allowed to legally date a 17-year-old. But if you were to be in possession of sexting photos from the 17-year-old, you could be charged with a crime. This is true even if you are in a relationship.

Adult Sexting Can Also Be Illegal

Sexting can also be considered a crime among adults. If one person is sending unwanted explicit photos to another person, and does not stop when asked, then the sender can be charged with harassment.

While sexting is often considered a misdemeanor in the state courts, it can be charged as a federal crime in certain situations. Federal law makes it a crime for a minor to pose for sexually explicit photos in order to distribute them to others. The sender of the photos will be prosecuted.

Get Legal Help If You’re Accused of Sexting

A charge of illegal sexting or child pornography has severe consequences. Besides jail time and other punishments, you could be dealing with the offense for the rest of your life. An innocent exchange of sexual images should not ruin your life. With the right criminal defense, you can avoid having to deal with these repercussions.

We can help you with this stressful time by providing you with a solid defense. Don’t fight your sexting case alone. Protect your rights by calling our Pittsburgh sex crime lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146.