With the ease of communication nowadays, you face a slippery slope. What started off as a casual, friendly chat could venture into romantic or sexual territory.
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If both participants are two consenting adults, this is not a problem. But if one or both of the participants are minors, then the conversation could become unlawful if it becomes sexually explicit. Sexting, while very common, can cross a line, lead to serious accusations, and even potential criminal charges, requiring an experienced attorney
“Sexting,” is the practice of sending sexually suggestive or explicit messages, photos, and videos. Between adults, this practice is entirely lawful. Consenting adults are free to engage in whatever sexual and intimate practices they choose. However, sexting becomes illegal when it involves a minor.
When a minor is involved in sexting, whether that minor sent or received nude photos or explicit messages, consent is not a factor. An adult accused of a sexting-related crime cannot defend themselves by saying the minor consented to the activity.
Even if this is true, Georgia’s age of consent is 16 years old. Any minor who is 15 years or younger is not legally capable of giving consent to sexual activity. And under some Georgia sex crime laws, certain unlawful activity with a minor under 18 years old can lead to charges as well.
The creation, possession, and distribution of child pornography is prohibited pursuant to O.C.G.A. §16-12-100, Georgia’s sexual exploitation of children statute.
It is also illegal for anyone to knowingly employ, use, persuade, induce, entice, or coerce any minor to engage in or help anyone else engage in any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual medium depicting such conduct. In other words, it is illegal to text a minor and induce that minor to send you pictures or videos of themselves nude or performing sexually explicit conduct.
It is unlawful for anyone to knowingly possess or control any material that depicts a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. This means if you receive nude photos or sexually suggestive or explicit videos from a minor, and you keep those photos of videos on your phone or other device, you are illegally in possession of child pornography, even if you did not request or consent to receiving such materials.
It also is unlawful for anyone to knowingly create, reproduce, publish, promote, sell, distribute, give, exhibit, or possess with the intent to sell or distribute any visual medium that depicts a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Therefore, you can face charges for sending or showing any sexually explicit videos of photos of a minor to anyone else.
O.C.G.A §16-12-100.1 makes it is unlawful to knowingly electronically furnish a minor with any picture, photo, drawing, or other visual representation, or any written or aural matter depicting or describing sexually explicit nudity, sexual conduct, or sadomasochistic abuse that is harmful to minors.
The offensive material must not be an incidental part of a nonoffending whole. The material must not have any literary, artist, political, or scientific value.
O.C.G.A §16-12-100.2 is the Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007.
This law makes it unlawful to intentionally or willfully use any computer wireless or internet service to seduce, lure, entice, or try to seduce, solicit, or entice a child to commit any illegal act by, with, or against a child, such as sodomy, aggravated sodomy, child molestation, aggravated child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes, public indecency, or any other sexual offense against a child.
It also is illegal to have contact with a minor through a computer wireless or internet service that involves any explicit verbal descriptions or narrative accounts of sexually explicit nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse, and which is intended to arouse or satisfy either party’s sexual desires.
An adult sexting with a minor or two minors sexting each other can be illegal under federal law as well. There is not a specific law that prohibits sexting. However, the conduct may be unlawful under one or several federal laws, including child pornography (18 U.S.C. §§2251, 2252, 2252A) as well as the the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003 (18 U.S.C. § 1466A(a)(1)).
There are several sexting laws or sex offense laws that encompass unlawful electronic communications and sex acts with children. These laws can lead to misdemeanor or felony sex crime charges no matter who instigated the sexually suggestive or explicit conversation or who is depicted in sexually suggestive or explicit images. If a minor is shown nude or involved in sexual conduct, you may face charges under O.C.G.A. §16-12-100. If you or another adult is shown as nude or engaged in sexual conduct, the charges may arise under O.C.G.A §16-12-100.1.
Teens may believe they can sext with one another lawfully. However, this is not necessarily true. If one or both of the teens involved send nude or sexually explicit photos of videos, then they have just become involved with child pornography.
The creation, delivery, acceptance, and possession of images depicting minors in sexual situations is illegal, even if the creator, sender, or recipient is the minor depicted. It also may not matter that both minors involved consented to the creation, delivery, and receipt of such materials.
However, teens may not face charges as harsh as an adult sexting with a minor would. Many of Georgia’s child sex offense laws have what is known as a Romeo and Juliet provision. Under this exception, if the individuals involved are of certain ages and within four years of each other, then the individual charged with a crime faces a misdemeanor offense.
Typically, the alleged victim must be at least 14 years old and the defendant must be 18 years or younger as well as less than four years older than the victim.
There are several potential defenses against sexting-related charges. The appropriate defense depends on which law you are charged under and the specific facts of the case. An experienced sexting with a minor lawyer can utilize a variety of defenses, including:
We have helped many teens, college students, and adults who faced sexting-related charges.
For example, our client was a 21-year-old who met a girl online using a social networking app called Skout. The girl was representing herself as being 25 years old. They chatted at first, and then traded naked pictures. As soon as she sent photos, our client realized that she was a minor and stopped having any contact with her.
The young girl’s parents discovered the pictures and contacted the police who then obtained a search warrant and seized our client’s computers and phones. We were able to show that our client had no sexual interest in children and were able to have the case dismissed before our client was ever arrested. (Read More)
Read more on Our Results page about how we have successfully defended other clients accused of sexting-related offenses.