“Sexting,” or the sharing of sexual images or written content by digital message, is an extremely common practice nowadays. Seamless multimedia sharing and apps such as Snapchat have made sexting an easy process.
Sexting isn’t a crime in and of itself. However, sexting can become a serious issue when minors are involved, especially if a minor was sent or was coerced into sharing explicit material. A conviction for sexting with a minor can carry heavy fines and penalties, including jail time.
If you’ve been accused of soliciting sexual material from a minor via multimedia messaging, you need an experienced sexting lawyer to defend you. Contact the Raleigh criminal defense attorneys of Kurtz & Blum today for a confidential consultation.
What Is Sexting?
Sexting is a term used to describe text messaging that involves sexual language and images. Sexting can be done on any device, such as a smart phone, tablet, or personal computer. It can include the exchange of language describing sexual acts, nude photos, and videos showing or emulating sexual acts.
Sexting can be a normal part of a relationship between consenting adults. However, since children and teenagers are gaining access to the digital world earlier and earlier, it is unfortunately very easy for them to get involved in the sharing of sexually explicit material.
Is Sexting Against the Law?
Sexting is not against the law when it is between consenting adults. It is illegal when minors are involved. No minor can legally partake in the exchange of sexually explicit material. Sexting, just like actual sex, requires the consent of all parties.
Anyone found in possession or exchange of sexually explicit materials involving minors can be prosecuted, as the materials are considered child pornography. In many states, including North Carolina, it is also illegal to redistribute received sexual material, even if it doesn’t involve minors. These laws are known as nonconsensual porn laws.
When Does Sexting Become a Felony/Misdemeanor?
When minors are involved, sexting can be considered possession or distribution of child pornography, which is a felony. Possession of child pornography is a Class H felony in North Carolina, and recording or distributing child pornography is a Class E felony in North Carolina.
Teenagers younger than 18 can also be prosecuted for sharing sexually explicit material between each other, even though the age of consent to sex is 16 in North Carolina. In one case, two 16-year-olds were charged with felony child pornography for sharing nude photos with each other, but both pled guilty to the lesser charge of disseminating harmful material to minors, which is a misdemeanor.
Penalties for Sexting
Penalties for sexting can vary significantly depending on the nature of the situation. A Class H felony for possession of child pornography can be punishable by four to 25 months in prison. A Class E felony for recording or distributing child pornography can be punishable by 15 to 63 months in prison. The possible lesser charge of disseminating harmful material to minors is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 120 days in jail.
In addition, those convicted of child pornography offenses must register as sex offenders in North Carolina. Failure to do so can result in an additional felony.
Exchanges of Images: Risks and Legal issues
The exchange of sexually explicit images comes with inherent risk, even when both parties involved are willing participants in the exchange. Child pornography criminal charges are not the only legal issues, as risk is even present when sexual images are shared between consenting adults. They include:
- Exposure of nude photos after a breakup, otherwise known as “revenge porn”
- The aftereffects of these risks, such as relationship and employment issues
If you’ve been accused of sexting with a minor and are unsure how to proceed or what laws apply, contact us for your free consultation so we can walk you through your legal options.
Contact Kurtz & Blum Today
If you’ve been charged with a sexting-related crime, you need a strong advocate to stand up for you and defend your rights, your freedom, and your reputation. Contact the experienced Raleigh sexting attorneys of Kurtz & Blum for help.
Call us or fill out our online form for your confidential consultation.