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Can Sexting Get You In Legal Trouble?

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finger pushing a sexting button

Can sexting, that is, texting a nude photo of yourself – get you in trouble with the law? Most of you have heard of Anthony Weiner and the legal trouble he found himself in after sending some nude pics of himself.  With that in mind, and before we talk about the legal issues, ladies, please excuse me while I have a sidebar with all the men out there.

Sidebar: Okay listen up guys – no one wants to see nude pictures of you, especially …closeups. No one.  Just don’t do it. Don’t.

Okay, now back to the larger issue.  Almost all states have “sexting laws” and here are generally the things to be aware and careful of:

  • ANY sexting involving a minor is illegal – it’s called child pornography and the punishments are harsh.  Parents – talk to your teens. Even a teenager can break this law by sharing pictures of themselves – even IF enticed to do so by an adult (yes, a teen sharing a picture of themselves can be illegal – they can be both victim and criminal – quite unbelievable). 
  • Unauthorized sharing of nude photos is generally NOT a crime.  For example, your boyfriend (against my advice) sends you a picture and you decide it’s so great you forward it to a friend to show off.  NOT a crime, but technically illegal from a civil standpoint since you have violated his copyright of his image and his privacy rights.   NOT a case I would accept by the way.
  • And that was the state of the law in regard to sharing photos and videos until revenge porn became more and more rampant in our society with easy access to video cameras and such.  Now almost 40 states have passed revenge porn laws  which make it illegal to disseminate sexual pictures or videos with the intent to harass or embarrass the person.  In most states that is now illegal and you can go to jail.

In conclusion, sexting between two consenting adults is 100% legal, you can get in trouble if a minor is involved (even if you are the minor) or if you share the texts with a third party.  And there you have it, sext away … I guess.

But please, don’t sext and drive.

Jeremy Hogan
Jeremy Hogan
Attorney Jeremy Hogan is a partner at Hogan & Hogan.