In some states, especially those that do not have specific sexting laws, anyone who creates, possesses, or distributes nude or explicit photos of a juvenile can be charged with child pornography or related crimes, such as the sexual exploitation of a minor. § § 2252, 2252A.) But federal prosecution of juveniles for sexting may be unlikely. For example, a 19-year old who sends or receives and keeps an explicit image of an person under the age of 18 may be charged with child pornography or similar crimes.
Child pornography charges can arise whenever a person sends or receives explicit images of a person under the age of 18. § 2251.) It’s also a federal crime to use a computer to ship, transport, receive, distribute, or reproduce for distribution a depiction of a minor actually engaging in sexually explicit conduct, or any material that otherwise constitutes child pornography. The Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act (FJDA) generally provides that, where possible, juveniles should be prosecuted in state—not federal—courts. Sexting laws are designed to target teens who send explicit images to other teens, making the crime less significant than a child pornography charge, which would otherwise apply if the people involved were adults.
But it isn't just adults who send or receive such images who can be charged with these crimes, and even teens who send pictures of themselves to adults can face child pornography charges Depending on the circumstances, sexting may also be a crime under federal law. § 1466A(a)(1).) Federal law also criminalizes causing a minor to take part in sexually explicit conduct in order to visually depict that conduct. It’s another federal crime to promote or solicit sexually explicit material involving a minor. Because teen sexting can involve juvenile courts or adult courts, and cover various criminal laws, there is a wide range of potential penalties that may apply.
The Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003 makes it illegal to produce, distribute, receive, or possess with intent to distribute any obscene visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Parents who allow this behavior can also be prosecuted. In states that have specific laws that target sexting, the crime is typically either a misdemeanor offense or petty offense, a type of offense considered less serious than a misdemeanor.
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To get state specific details regarding sexting, jump ahead to teen sexting laws by state.
It may also be enough to avoid a sexting conviction if the person receiving the message tried to delete it but was unable to. § 5032.) It's important to note that even though sexting laws apply to teenagers, this doesn't mean that people over the age of 16 or 18 who send sex messages are free from committing a crime.Knowing possession of such material—without intent to distribute—is also a crime under the PROTECT Act. However, in other states a sexting offense may be considered child pornography, an offense that is typically charged as a felony and one that has much harsher penalties.When a juvenile—a person under the age of 18—commits a criminal offense, that offense is dealt with through the juvenile justice system, not the adult criminal justice system.As the leading Hispanic dating site, we successfully bring together singles from around the world.For over 10 years, thousands of happy men and women have met their soul mates on Latin American Cupid and have shared their stories with us. For a fun, safe and uniquely Latin dating experience, join free today.