• Can you get in trouble for sexting?

    Date: 03.11.09 | by Judge Tom.

    The quick answer is yes, you can get in trouble for sexting, but sexting can also have unforeseen consequences beyond legal troubles that can be devastating like Jessica Logan’s story. Legislatures across the country are dealing with this issue and many are attempting to pass sexting laws. Know the laws in your state as well as the other possible conseqences (school, future jobs, emotional distress, etc.) by reading further.

    Let’s talk about sext, baby.

    As you know, sexting is the practice of sending nude or semi-nude pictures of yourself to someone else by cell phone – like texting. It has resulted in serious consequences for some teens. Consider the outcome of Phillip Alpert’s behavior in 2008.

    Phillip’s story: felony charges for consensual sexting….really?!?!

    Phillip AlpertPhillip was an 18-year-old student in Florida when he broke up with his 16-year-old girlfriend. While they were dating, she sent him nude pictures of herself. After breaking up, Phillip became angry and in retaliation, sent the pictures to over 70 people including her parents, grandparents and teachers.

    Phillip was charged with sending child pornography and was convicted. He was sentenced in 2008 to five years probation and required to register as a sex offender until he’s 43-years-old. In a 2009 interview, Phillip said that “A lot of my friends have not stood by me . . .people don’t want to talk to me anymore.” Phillip has to attend sex offender meetings and is having trouble finding work.

    Jessica’s story: a viral pic has devastating and unintended consequences.

    jessica logan

    Photo from MSNBC video

    Or consider the tragic outcome of Jessica Logan’s sext message.  Jessica was a senior at Sycamore High School in Ohio. She sent a nude picture of herself to her boyfriend. After they broke up, he sent the photos to a few friends and they ended up being viewed by hundreds of students at several schools. The harassment Jesse endured was relentless. She was called a slut and a whore, teased and even had things thrown at her. She became depressed and started skipping school.

    Jessica decided to confront the problem by going on local television to tell her story. “I just want to make sure no one else will have to go through this again.” Two months later, on July 3, 2008, Jessica hanged herself in her bedroom closet.

    Her mother, Cynthia Logan, has taken up the cause of educating our nation’s youth about the dangers of sexting. In May, 2009, Jessica’s parents filed a lawsuit against the school district and school resource officer for negligence in failing to protect their daughter.**  Also named in the lawsuit is her ex-boyfriend and four other students for severe infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

    In February, 2012, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the “Jessica Logan Act”* into law. The law adds cyberbullying to school responsibilities and covers acts on buses and at off-campus events. The  law primarily puts the burden on schools to educate kids not to sext and to enact anti-bullying policies aimed at stopping distribution of the photos. Supporters  say the law strikes a fair balance between education and enforcement, but  critics say it doesn’t go far enough to punish bullies.

    Read Jessica’s poem written when she was 17 for a Writer’s Workshop at school called ”The Door That Lies Before You“.

    sexting

    Photo by Rohan Kar

    State and federal sexting laws

    Child pornography is a crime. Whether you send, receive or even possess sexual photos of teenagers or children it is a felony in most states. And it isn’t limited to cell phone texting. Using any form of electronic communication (email, instant messaging, etc.) involving sexual content and minors may have dire consequences. Your life will drastically change if you’re caught violating child pornography laws or new sexting laws being passed in some states.

    Because numerous teens have been charged with sexting or possession of child pornography as a result of their school or the police searching their cell phones, know your rights about this issue and when the police can read your text messages.

    Other resources

    In an article written for the National Law Journal in July, 2009, Prof. Vivian O. Berger of Columbia Law School commented about sexting:  “Momentary recklessness can result in mammoth embarrassment and grave damage to reputation: images virally spread on the Internet carry the potential to scuttle college admissions prospects and job opportunities years later.”

    See Prof. Berger’s article “Stop Prosecuting Teens for Sexting” and find out more about this issue.

    *Ohio Revised Statutes, Sections 3313.666, 3313.667 and 3319.073.

    **Sycamore High School settled with Jessica’s family in 2012 and agreed to pay $154,000 in damages. However, no amount of money can bring back their daughter. Please help spread the word about these tragic stories involving cyberbullying, so we can all learn from them and encourage everyone to practice respect and netiquette.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    61 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Savannah
      Tue, 31 Mar 2009 at 11:38

      thats crazy…

      Judge Tom’s response:
      Because of the serious consequences of being charged with child pornography, some states are reviewing their statutes. Legislatures in a few states are drafting bills to make sexting a lesser crime [misdemeanor or petty offense]. Bottom line – be careful about what you send to cyberspace – it’s forever and may backfire even though your intentions weren’t criminal.

    • jennie
      Wed, 06 Jan 2010 at 09:03

      i feel sorry for jessica and my thoughts are with the family, i have a sister that killed herself due to bullying of her appearnace and the things she has done…its never fair to see someone get treatd that way
      Thanks for your comments, Jennie. We’re sorry to hear about your sister.

    • Ricky
      Wed, 15 Dec 2010 at 05:34

      Sexting is just totally unacceptable I’m sorry for ur loss

    • Susanne Mitchell
      Sun, 23 Jan 2011 at 07:46

      Parents…talk to your kids about safe cell phone use! Sharing cell phone photos is never private so don't take risks! http://fb.me/GlqsUPmW

    • Askthejudge.info
      Sun, 23 Jan 2011 at 10:31

      @slcjc Thx for the tweet! Parents…talk to your kids about safe cell phone use! Sharing photos is never private … http://fb.me/GlqsUPmW

    • New sexting laws designed to protect minors | reportergary.com
      Wed, 02 Feb 2011 at 09:45

      [...] you know, sexting has become a huge issue in recent years resulting in tragic endings for some teenagers and [...]

    • James Burgo
      Sat, 02 Apr 2011 at 03:40

      I think sexting is becoming a huge problem (much like how this article pointed out the consiquences) and I think its a shame that the girls life had to end the way it did. I am sorry for your loss and I think they need to continue finding affective ways to go against sexting.
      Thank you for your comments, James.

    • jenny swann
      Mon, 10 Oct 2011 at 05:12

      If you don’t ask for nude pics and someone sending them too you..Can they get in trouble for them and the person is over the age of 18
      Dear Jenny: If you are a minor and the person sending you the sexted photos is over 18, it’s possible that they could be facing penalties under your state’s laws. Try Googling your state’s name and “sexting law” for further information. However, if both parties involved are adults and both consented to the sending and receiving of the photos, then it’s unlikely that there would be any criminal charges for such an incident. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • diamond
      Tue, 18 Oct 2011 at 09:04

      wat do u do if u sexted and someone is threatening u with the pictures
      Dear Diamond: Good question – this happens fairly often once you’ve sent out sexualized photos. You didn’t mention your age, but if you’re a teenager, tell your parents immediately. As embarrassing as it may be, don’t keep this to yourself. Your parents can intervene on your behalf and hopefully put an end to this. The school administration should be notified if the person threatening to use the photos against you also goes to the same school. Depending on the circumstances, your parents may also want to report this to the police. Think long and hard before you send out any more photos. Sexting can seriously backfire on you and your family. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Anthony
      Sat, 05 Nov 2011 at 11:06

      If both parties are at least 18 years of age and are both consensual so the sending/ receiving of the nude photos would it not be protected by the 1st amendment.
      Dear Anthony: Yes, but you need to be careful about the transmission to and from each other. If, for example, you sent a photo assuming it’s going to an intended person, but she doesn’t have her phone (left it somewhere or with someone else) and a third party receives it and forwards it on to others, civil or criminal laws make come into play. Innocently exchanged photos have led to blackmail, threats and other crimes after a relationship ends. This has happened and in one case, led to the suicide of a 13-year-old girl in Florida. As you know, once you hit send, you can’t get it back and you have no control where it will end up. We recommend that minors, because of these dangers and the total loss of control over the images once sent, not engage in sexting. All the best.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • JJ25
      Sun, 13 Nov 2011 at 07:30

      We’ve been learning about “sexting” in my school and It has brought a question in my mind. If I received a sext photo and I didn’t even want it do I still get charged?If we are both 17. If I don’t even ask for one and they send me one anyways will I still be in trouble and what should I do? I gotta be prepared for the future just incase any of this stuff ever happens.
      Dear JJ25: That’s an excellent question. It’s going to depend on the specific laws in your state and whether or not your state has enacted a law to specifically address sexting. It’s possible that even being the recipient of a sext could be a criminal act, but most states are not focused on prosecuting the recipient as long as he/she did not forward the sext or share it with anyone else. Because you don’t want to have any possible criminal images on your phone, it would be best to delete the photos and definitely not share them with anyone. However, you may want to tell your parents or another adult you trust if you are put in this situation. Thanks for asking.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • cameron
      Sun, 15 Jan 2012 at 01:59

      im 17 and last year i sexted my bf cuz he pressured me into doing it… i feel so bad and i have no idea what i should do. he said he deleted it but im worried that something bad will happen. is there anyway i can fix this? because i dont think ignoring it will make it go away
      Dear Cameron: As you know, once you hit “send”, an image, text, etc. could potentially be out there forever. First, you may want to sit down and have a serious conversation with your boyfriend about this and that you are uncomfortable with what you did. Perhaps he can show you his phone and that the picture has been deleted. You may want to talk to your parents about it as well, as emabarrassing as it may be, because they could help you address the matter. Otherwise, consider talking to the school counselor or another adult you trust. It sounds like you have learned from this and will not be sexting in the future as there can be unintended consequences. Take care and good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • chris
      Thu, 19 Jan 2012 at 02:34

      me and my girlfriend are both 17, we keep are sexual life 100% private. I have a question if we sext and tell no one and delete the picture afterwords is there anyway of an outsider such as the government or the police find out ?
      Dear Chris: The general answer is that, yes, there is always a way a third person can come across the photos you and your girlfriend exchange. Once you hit “send” the picture is out there for the world to see. In the event you break up, one of you could share the photos with others. Then they can spread across the Internet at lightening speed. One teen we wrote about sent a sext to his girlfriend, but she didn’t have her phone with her at the time. Her girlfriend had it, saw the picture and shared it with others. Not to mention the anti-sexting laws that exist in some states. Think about this before posting any sexually explicit photos. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • George
      Mon, 23 Jan 2012 at 11:52

      Hello,
      I sent some nude pics of my exgrilfriend to her husband this past weekend thru facebook while i was in Vegas. She was ligaly married to him while we were dating and we always shared nude pics with eachother. Im i in trouble if they go to the law? i never would have done this but now that its done, i have to stand for what i did.
      Dear George: What you’ve done may be illegal, but it depends on the laws of the state where this happened. Some states have laws against sexting making it either a felony or misdemeanor. You can Google the name of the state where you did this and “sexting laws” for information. Think before doing this again. As tempting as it may be, once you hit “send” it’s out there forever and can come back to bite you. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Nisha
      Tue, 27 Mar 2012 at 09:15

      Okay, so…I have a friend that came to me after she sexted and sent videos out to a guy. She didnt know him personally as he lived in another state. I guess that guy shared with another friend of his..and that friend ended up coming bak and blackmailing my friend. So she had to endure that and she told me she was afraid so she let herself get blackmailed into sending more pics and even videos . Yes her parents found out after a while and she got in mega trouble. The only time I talked to her was at school. But I guess the guy put them on a site and which ANOTHER person found them. This time, in our town and she knew. This new person got her number and started texting her and threatening her til she started to ignore them … but now another person is texting her saying the have a friend who has these pics and that they have them as well.. and they have yet to blackmail her with it because she just ignores them..she doesnt know what to do! and I dont know what to say or do to help her either. She is already changing her number. and the other numbers that these guys txt her on are IPOD numbers, so not very trackable. What can she do? other than tell the police or school? Because she doesnt even know who it is. Thank you, please respond ASAP
      Dear Nisha: We’re sorry to hear about your friend’s circumstances. First, she needs to tell her parents what is going on. They already know that she sexted, but they need to know what is happening as a result of the sexted photos. Her parents will be able to help resolve the situation by contacting the police and making a formal complaint. If she feels she cannot tell her parents, she must tell an adult she trusts like a teacher or a school counselor. She should save any messages she receives as they are evidence against those blackmailing her, harassing her, etc. Finally, your friend should not be pressured into sending any more pics/videos as it will not help her situation. Best of luck to your friend.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • melissa
      Thu, 29 Mar 2012 at 05:01

      i sent some pics to my bf.. but were not together anymore. he says htat he deleted them. but im not very sure. i dont know what to do. plz help
      Dear Melissa: We’re sorry to hear you’re in this position. All you can do is accept his word that he deleted them and hope for the best. If you’re a minor, you could ask your parents to contact him and his parents to be sure that they’re gone. If he uses them in some way against you, you can report it to the police since it may constitute a crime. Think twice before doing this again – once out there, you basically have no control over where they go or to whom. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Chris
      Wed, 04 Apr 2012 at 11:46

      I have a friend and about 4 years ago he and his girlfriend sent some pics… can he still get in trouble… they deleted the pics
      Dear Chris: They may have deleted the photos but that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Once something is posted online, it’s in cyberspace forever. You have no control over where it goes, to how many people or separate files, etc. So, it depends on the laws in your state whether they can get into trouble or not. If your state has a sexting law, take a look at it and see what it covers. Google the name of your state and “sexting laws” for information. Good luck and remember to think long & hard before posting any photos you wouldn’t show your mother or grandmother. Take a look at this story on AsktheJudge.info for an example of photos that surfaced years after they were posted:
      http://www.askthejudge.info/sexting-photos-surface-five-years-later/8415/
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Rochele
      Tue, 24 Apr 2012 at 03:15

      Hi I am having problems with my daughters ex boyfriend. My daughter is 17 will be 18 on May 8, 2012. now her boyfriend is 18. my daughter broke up with him and he is saying that he will post pics of her that he took. I asked my daughter what kind of pics they were and she said he took the pics when she was changing in the fitting room. what can i do to make this stop? is that a crime will he be punished for it? Please help me because I feel really bad for my daughter she is scheduled to see a psychiatrist because this is affecting her so much and this is her first boyfriend. We live in California. please help me
      Dear Rochele: There are several things you can do. If you know the boy’s parents, contact them to discuss this. You can also notify the police since, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the photos, it may constitute a crime especially now while she is still a minor. If all else fails, you could consider getting a restraining order from a court ordering him not to invade her privacy by posting the photos. Let us know what happens here – your experience would be useful to our readers to prevent others from experiencing what you’re going through. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Brandon
      Sat, 07 Jul 2012 at 11:14

      Hi I have a similar question but we are both over 18, okay if I send an email to my ex-girlfriend about our recent break up and I’m expressing my feelings and I add tracking to see if she opened and read the email but I noticed the tracking ended up somewhere far from where she lives, my question is if I sent it to her email can she forward it to someone else without my permission because that was private and a personal email is that legal?

      Thank you
      Dear Brandon: Since you’re both adults, there most likely are no laws preventing her from forwarding an email from you. Sexting laws that criminalize such forwards would apply to her only if she was still a minor (under 18) or if she forwarded a sext message to another minor. But if your email did not include any type of sexting or sexual content and she chose to share it with a friend or relative, it’s unlikely that there are any laws preventing her from doing so. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • melissa
      Mon, 09 Jul 2012 at 10:04

      i sexted my bf when i was a minor. he said he deleted them but im not sure if he did. i turn 18 in a few weeks. could i still get in trouble for some stupid thing i did a few years ago? i mean it hasnt gotten out yet and i dont want it to get out now. plz help i ahve no idea what to do. i live in california
      Dear Melissa: First, you have to look to whether or not your state has a sexting law. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, California does not have a sexting law other than a bill to reduce sexting occurrences at school and directed at students. Sexting laws usually make the act a misdemeanor and diversion programs are options to resolve the case allowing the minor to avoid a criminal record. All states have what’s called a “statute of limitations” on filing charges against a person meaning that there is a 1 year (or more) time limit to file misdemeanor charges against a person. Therefore, it’s extremely unlikely that you will face any criminal consequences for the sexting that occurred years ago. We hope you learned from this though that once you put something out there is cyberface, you can never take it back. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Haley
      Wed, 11 Jul 2012 at 09:22

      This is horrible. Listen to me- DONT EVER SEXT. i learned that the hard way. I came across this while doing research for a 1000 word essay my probation officer assigned me. For sexting. I was lucky enough my boyfriends parents didnt charge me. But it’s horrible because now i have community service and i lost my boyfriend. We were forced to break up after this whole thing. I can tell you right now that its a mistake you never EVER want to make. I’m dealing with the consiquences right now and theyre not pretty.
      And in addition to my earlier comment, i’d like to say to all of the people who have sexted and are going through bullying- stay strong. i know it’s hard. I’m just lucky my bf loves me enough to not do anything. Sexting can really mess up your life and i dont want that to ever happen to anyone, but unfortunately it does. it’s smart people making stupid desicions and i want to tell you to hang in there. It’ll get easier. Sometimes you just need to stand up for yourself even if things are bad. Okay, well thank you for reading. hope things get better. Lots of love from me. -Haley
      Dear Haley: Thank you for your comments. Your thoughts based on your experience with sexting should help open the eyes of others considering doing the same thing. All the best. -ATJ.info
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • “Sexting” Makes the Dictionary | Internet Safe Child
      Mon, 10 Sep 2012 at 12:12

      [...] http://www.askthejudge.info/can-you-get-in-trouble-for-sexting/232/ [...]

    • Anonymous
      Tue, 30 Oct 2012 at 11:08

      So this girl that I really don’t like ended up sending pictures to some stranger, who posted them online. I recieved these pictures also via text and warned her about them. We got into a conflict and now she is accusing me of being the person she sent them to and threatening me with fraud and child pornography charges. I did forward them to a couple people as revenge. We are both 17. What can/will happen to me? Also, will she get in trouble for sending them in the first place?

      -Teens in California
      Dear Anon: Sexting in some states is against the law and you could be prosecuted. Google the name of your state and “sexting laws” for definitions that apply to you. We suggest you don’t send these photos on any further.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Jeff
      Mon, 12 Nov 2012 at 01:18

      So I’m 22 and I was using kik to find random people to sexy with. I sent a pic of me in my underwear I someone I didn’t know. She Sao he called the cops and is soon me for sexting. I told her I meant no harm and she Sao she already called the cops. I don’t know what to do, I didn’t mean anything by it, and I don’t really think she called the cops but is there legal trouble for me? I live in california
      Dear Jeff: The possible legal consequences depend on the laws in your state as well as all of specific circumstances. You could be facing some sort of cyber harassment or online stalking charge. If the person you sent the sexts to is a minor, there could be additional sexual misconduct type charges. Like you said, she could be trying to scare you and you may hear nothing more. But we seriously hope you learned from this – sexting with even a willing partner these days is incredibly risky as the “Internet never forgets”, but if you’re sending sexts to random recipients, you could find yourself facing multiple consequences. Please help us help more teens by voting for AsktheJudge to win a FedEx small business grant!
      (This is information only – not legal advice)

    • tim
      Tue, 25 Dec 2012 at 05:14

      hi judge Tom. I was texting my friend and at the time, didn’t know it was her so I said to prove it. she sent a mirror picture of her she had clothes on but you could sort of see the top of chest a tiny bit. im not sure what it is considered. we are under 18. please help.
      Dear Tim: Since you’re concerned about this photo, you may have good reason since “sexting” has become an issue with law enforcement across the country. You can delete it and tell your friend that you did so she doesn’t send similar ones. Whatever you do, don’t send it on or share it with your friends. That can lead to problems now or later on. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • worried
      Wed, 02 Jan 2013 at 12:50

      Can a 19 yr old get introuble for just talking sexually to a 16 yr old in South Dakota where the age of consent is 16.
      Dear Worried: Just talking about sex or talking in a sexual manner isn’t illegal. It’s when talk is followed by action that can get you into trouble. However, if you’ve been told by someone’s parents to stay away from him or her or a court has issued a restraining order against you and you violate it, that can lead to criminal action and possible penalties. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Don
      Sun, 27 Jan 2013 at 04:45

      I was just wondering. my girlfriends friend has been sexting this guy she just met and my girlfriends friend is worried that she will get into trouble for sexting. can she get into trouble if they both agreed to sext and send nude pictures to each other? they are over the age of 18. I say no because they both have agreed to it so I’m just looking for the correct response. thank you
      Dear Don: You would have to check the sexting laws in the state where these two people live. Most likely, if they’re both over 18 and consent to the exchange of photos, no law has been broken. However, if one is tricked into the picture exchange or threatened or blackmailed into this, that’s a different story. Law enforcement takes a close look at reports of criminal activity if it appears there’s more than just a case of high-tech flirting.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Anonymous
      Sun, 10 Feb 2013 at 10:08

      I sexted my boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend) 8 months ago. It was only naughty text messages (No pictures). We had 1 year and 5 months so i thought we could take that step. We sexted about 4 times but now that we broke up i feel so worried and regret sexting. Im 16 turning to 17 and he is 18. We havent talked since we broke up and its been 6 months since we havent talked. I havent been threatened or anything by him but im just worried because i dont trust him. I shouldn’t have in the first place. Im worried he still has the messages. Can i get in trouble or can he get in trouble if they were only messages but pictures were never involved in this.
      Dear Anon: If your state has a sexting law you have to see what it says. Usually it covers text plus photos that, once out there, are difficult if not impossible to remove. Google the name of your state and “sexting law” for details. You can ask him to delete the messages or just let it go in hopes that he won’t use them for his own purposes. That’s one of the problems with sexting – many current boy-and-girlfriends become ex’s. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Nial
      Sun, 05 May 2013 at 12:21

      Im really scared and i regret what i did. i was just trying to blow off some steam so i found a number off tumblr the user name was 1992 so obviusly i thought they were over 18. i texted the the numbe and asked for a picture (wasnt thinking) and i turned out to be a 13 year old girl who said she would tell her dad who is a shariff. im shaking so bad i said sorry and everything andade sure id never do it again. its been about a day and i havnt gotten any call. hopefully she was just trying to scare me which worked because i def learned my lesson. any pointers? i sent no photo but i asked for one through text then after finding outher true age i said it wasnt intended for her. so basically someone plosted a random girls number to set anyone up that tried callig or texting it. i live in california btw please give me some advice im still nervous n terrified .
      Dear Nial: We’re certainly glad to hear you learned your lesson from this experience as you never know who might be on the receiving end of a text message, etc. when you get the information off the Internet and you don’t know the person on any type of personal level. The girl could easily be threatening to tell her dad. In fact, she may be an adult and just saying that she’s a minor to scare you. The point is that you just don’t know who you are dealing with, so you may need to wait it out a little longer to feel more relaxed about not hearing from the police. You could try consulting with a criminal defense attorney in your area who handles sex offenses. A local attorney might be able to mitigate any consequences if the police were notified. Also, an attorney would be able to advise how to properly report any information to the police if the girl is the victim of identity theft. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Ba1
      Sun, 19 May 2013 at 06:11

      Thanks for your answer. I was wondering if my recent post (the most recent answered question on this page) could be removed if that’s not too much to ask, I didn’t know my name would come up and I didn’t know how to message you privately. It would be greatly appreciated.
      Yes, we’ll remove it. Thanks for writing us. -Judge Tom.

    • website
      Wed, 26 Jun 2013 at 09:28

      I delight in, result in I found just what I was having a look for. You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye
      You’re welcome. Thanks for writing us.

    • Billy
      Tue, 02 Jul 2013 at 05:05

      If a minor and someone over 18, send pictures willingly to eachother, can that get them in trouble? Also what if the overage person would turn the minor in. They both sent them willingly so what would happen with that?
      Dear Billy: Yes, there could be consequences for sending pictures to each other, even though both parties fully consented, because one of the parties is a minor. First, you could Google your state’s name and “sexting law” to find out if there is a specific sexting law in your state. Under some states’ laws, an adult who sexts a minor could face misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the specific facts and the person’s criminal history. Because the consequences can be more severe for the adult, even if he/she is only a year or so older, it’s best to play it safe and not sext until you’re both adults and even then it can be very risky. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • mark
      Wed, 03 Jul 2013 at 03:41

      If your on a dating site and your talking to someone and it saids they are 18 and you repeately ask how old they are and they say 18. So you exchange some pics to find out they are underage what do you do?
      Dear Mark: We suggest you delete any pictures you received and the ones you sent while you’re at it. Other than that, there’s little you can do. Once it’s out there, you can’t really take it back especially if someone has already sent it on or saved it to a file, etc. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • devlin
      Mon, 22 Jul 2013 at 06:53

      Hey, my facebook friend from Oklahoma who I have become close friends with was telling me and showing me these texts between him and this girl and saying he is going to jail and freaking out so I got curious. He is 26and this girl from a different state is 13 or something. They talk about dirty graphic fantasies to each other but he says they aren’t threatening and that they have a close relationship now but only talk via texting. Apparently he says no nude pictures have been exchanged but he has asked for a pic of her in short shorts hiked up her butt. He showed me and the pic isn’tnude but you can see the bottom of her butt cheeks. But whos to say you wouldn’t just be able to see her in public like that? I told him not to worry. He says she has mood swings and she said she resents him for “making”her do it. So he said okay if iit’s bugging you, we can just be friends. But she said no she is going to tell her counselor probably, even though she “loves” him. He is freaking out but I told him there’s no worry. Am I right? What would happen to him? If that’s child porn, then wouldn’t she get in trouble for distributing child porn? It’s not nude at all.. Oh also he says he sent her a pic of his bo#$! in boxers…non nude. He is freaking out. So. What should I tell him? I think he is over reacting but that he should stop talking to her. They say they’re in love but I think that’s #$&*. He’s a honest good guy…hence telling me and showing me the pic. I’m 19 btw. He said he will stop texting sexually if he has to but he would want to stay her friend. What if he deletes it all from his phone? I think I did. I need to know. He has been there for me for so much Crap I really want to help him.
      Dear Devlin: Your friend is right to be concerned about this. Ultimately, it’s going to depend on the laws in both their states. Sexting laws and possession of child pornography laws usually are directed at photographs, but they may include any sexually explicit material, which could include texts, etc. There are other laws that may apply such as soliciting a minor for sexual conduct, etc. Deleting any photos and texts is probably a good idea, but as you’re most likely aware, they cannot be forever erased especially considering the 13-year-old has them as well. Your friend should end any relationship he has with this girl even if it’s just texting. He could consider consulting with a criminal attorney in his area for further information and advice.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Seth P.
      Wed, 24 Jul 2013 at 03:26

      So I was friends with a 16 yr old through a family that my family knows. It ended up the 16 yr old came out and said she liked me more than friends and more than a crush. It turned into long term talk about our future and then sexting. Her dad ended up finding out and said he turned in our thousands of texts and pictures to his lawyer, and said to discontinue contact or he would move forward with charges…he also said he didn’t want to ruin my future, but if we had contact again he would have his attorney move forward with charges. My question is this: if I respect his wishes, can he still charge me when she turns 18 with the charges and things that happened now? If I wait till she’s 18, to start talking to her again? Thanks for your advice
      Dear Seth: Whether or not charges could be brought against you in a couple years or so would depend on your state’s laws and the statute of limitations. You didn’t mention whether you’re a minor, but you could be facing sexting charges or even some type of possession of child pornography charges depending on the specific circumstances. It would be best to refrain from texting so you don’t risk any criminal charges. However, it would be up to the police and the prosecutor’s office to go through any potential evidence and decide if charges should be filed. If you want to continue dating once she turns 18, perhaps you could try speaking with her father at that time as he may no longer be so upset about everything. Otherwise, you may want to look up your state’s statute of limitations for sexting and other related charges. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Devlin
      Wed, 24 Jul 2013 at 12:47

      Thanks. Well it’s not pornographic because she has clothess on, but I guess requesting a photo in itself was soliciting a minor for sexual conduct? I don’t think her having sexual photos of her on her phone is evidence, if her messages have been deleted. But even if it’s all deleted, they could go to the phone carrier where they still exist couldnt they? But they wouldn’t do that right? Idk this whole thing seems stupid. He doesn’t plan on meeting with her. He denied her apparently. And she’s a teenager with sexual desires. It seems messed up but really it seems like a natural trade off. Girls are becoming sexual at that age and are ready to reproduce. I see where he’s coming from I guess. Laws are weird. Also, on the other hand, why are they working on reducing the sexting punishement for child pornography? Why should a 15 year old having a nude photo of his classmate be a lesser punishment than a 15 year old having a nude photo of a girl in another state taken with an actual camera? Isn’t the crime the same either way? But at the same time, it’s just a photo that a horny person took to share with another person. But isnt that what child porn is? What’s the difference? See what I mean? You could argue that no one put them up to it, well okay does that mean a 15 year old could make their own porn site? Well I guess one could. Ugh Idk. It seemslike in this society the difference between teen and adult is getting smaller. They’re all into the same things. And girls start watching porn in elementary school now and it changes our society. Look at music videos and tumblr now. Something needs to change. Why does no one care? Twisted perversion seems to be becoming the norm.
      Dear Devlin: Ultimately, when an adult (18 or older) is sexting with a minor or engaging in any kind of possible sexual behavior via phone, Internet, etc., the consequences could be very serious for the adult. The reason so many states have passed sexting laws to reduce the consequences for minors sexting one another is because the child porn laws were designed to protect minors and not to prosecute them. These laws have been used to prosecute a few teens in states that do not or did not have sexting laws, but the penalties are very harsh such as having to register as a sex offender for many years. Thanks for writing and for your comments.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • devlin
      Thu, 25 Jul 2013 at 05:39

      but shouldn’t a law be a law? if having or producing child porn is against the law, it should be against the law for everyone.it shouldn’t be legal for a minor to view child porn or to create it. or to distribute it.the means used, a phone or a computer or a separate video camera, and the age of the person producing and distributing and receiving, should not make a difference really should it? also, what is the definition of child porn?I had read that pictures of underage people was not against the law unless it was sexual. I was at the record store a few years ago, and they saw a CD with artwork that was a picture of 5 naked children standing outside with their family.
      Thanks for your thoughts on this, Devlin. You have to look to the specific laws where you live to see what’s permitted and what’s illegal. Obviously, it’s an ongoing debate and laws vary.

    • Brett
      Mon, 12 Aug 2013 at 04:41

      What me and a girl who love each other but she is 16 and i am 18 are sexting and her mother is threating to press charges on me if i try to contact her?
      Dear Brett: Because of your ages and the fact that she is a minor (under age 18), the police may file charges against you for sexting depending on the laws in your state and the exact facts of the incident. It would be best to stop the sexting and listen to her mother who has legal authority over her daughter. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Greg
      Thu, 22 Aug 2013 at 12:03

      if two minors (under 18) send racy text messages NO pictures at all to each other on facebook can the law accused them of a crime if they never had physical contact with the person cause they live in different states?
      Dear Greg: States have their own laws regarding the use of digital devices. You have to look to each state’s laws to see if the behavior you describe violates any criminal laws. We suggest that you google the name of the state and “sexting laws” for information. Some states prohibit sexual content by any means of communication that involves minors.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • rick
      Thu, 21 Nov 2013 at 02:42

      I have a friend both over 18 they broke up and my friend sent me pics of her can he get into trouble?
      Dear Rick: Great question. Since they are both over 18, forwarding the pictures, even without her consent, may not be illegal. Ultimately, it depends on the laws in your state as there could be an electronic harassment offense or possibly another offense that could be committed depending on the specific facts as well as the laws in your state. Any sexting laws would most likely not apply since they are both adults. Either way, you may want to tell your friend to keep those pictures for himself or just delete them altogether as he doesn’t want to risk facing any criminal liability or revenge on his ex’s part. Thanks for asking.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Craig
      Mon, 09 Dec 2013 at 08:10

      In California, if a 17 year old girl sends a nude pic to an 18 year old guy and he sends one back to her, because of such a close age difference, can they get in trouble?
      Dear Craig: According to this recent chart on the sexting laws throughout the U.S., California does not have a law specific to sexting. This means that it may be possible for the 18-year-old to be facing felony possession of child pornography charges if someone reported it to the police. Until both parties are 18, it would be best to refrain from sexting one another. Thanks for asking.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Craig
      Tue, 10 Dec 2013 at 12:42

      Thank you very much for the prompt response. If the 18 year old were to delete the image as soon as he recieved it, are there any lower chances of there being such punishments? Also how long would it take for the police to reach him.
      Dear Craig: Crimes have what are called “limitations” regarding how much time law enforcement has to file formal charges. It could be a year or two or even longer depending on the crime. State laws on this differ.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Craig
      Tue, 10 Dec 2013 at 01:35

      If the 18 year old only did this once and never contacted the girl ever again what would be the benefits of doing this? keeping in mind that the 17y/o was asking for him to send a pic and she sent one first.
      Dear Craig: Since the 18-year-old is dealing with a minor, then deleting the photo, not forwarding or sharing it with anyone and not sending any more pics of himself would reduce any potential consequences if the police were to be notified. Forwarding and sharing such images could make matters and the potential consequences much worse. Keep in mind that if no one is making a complaint to the police, then it’s not as likely than any investigation by the police would be made.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Craig
      Tue, 10 Dec 2013 at 01:46

      Thank you very much. Just one more question, was there any crime for the 17 year old if she sent the picture?
      You’re welcome. Ultimately, it depends on the laws in California. Since CA doesn’t appear to have a sexting law, then you would have to look at other laws in the state to see if her sending the pic could have violated another law.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Craig
      Tue, 10 Dec 2013 at 02:00

      I believe she was from Tennessee but I’m not sure, I’m asking this for a friend of mine’s son. They didn’t know each other at all, the girl just kik’d him 6 days ago and they talked normally and then at the end of the day was when the pictures were exchanged and after that they have not conversed or talked at all and my friend’s son has deleted the whole conversation and even the kik application.

    • Craig
      Tue, 10 Dec 2013 at 03:46

      What is the difference if someone sends a sext to someone out of state rather than in state?
      You have to look to the specific laws in each state to see if a crime has been committed.

    • Craig
      Tue, 10 Dec 2013 at 04:26

      Awesome thanks so much for your help. And I found out she was in Texas not Tennessee so I’ll look for the laws. Thank you.
      You’re welcome. -ATJ.info

    • Kelly
      Wed, 11 Dec 2013 at 09:01

      I’m trying to do a report on the wrong nature of prosecuting kids for sexting and I wanted to add a section involving entrapment. Can a cop entrap someone on the basis of sexting when they have no reason to believe that that person has ever committed a crime such as that? I.E. A cop finds a random number and influences the person to send nude pics to them when that person has never done such a thing before?
      Dear Kelly: Good question. If a police officer were to do such a thing, then the defense of entrapment may be used by the person and may be successful in court. If the person can prove that they were persuaded to commit a crime that they normally would not commit, they may have a good defense. Check out this FindLaw article for more information “What is entrapment?”.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Sf
      Fri, 27 Dec 2013 at 09:17

      I am 17, and turning 18 in about a month. My boyfriend just turned 21, and we have been dating for quite some time now. I’ve sexted and sent him nude pictures, and he has done the same. My mom found out, and is saving the pictures as leverage to ensure that I won’t get back with him (she’s threatening to turn them into the police as kiddy porn is I ever seen him again). My question is after I turn 18, can she still turn in the pictures and get us into legal trouble? I live in PA, and I’m very scared and upset ):
      Dear SF: Pennsylvania does have a sexting law. Look here for information about it. Once you’re an adult, it’s unlikely you’d be in trouble for sexting incidents done while a minor. The intent of the law is to prevent kids from being victimized by adults in particular through this behavior. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • PamelaC.
      Sun, 19 Jan 2014 at 12:43

      I was sexting a stranger online who was thought or posed to live far from me. I was wrong , it was in fact someone at my job! now at work (work in a restaurant ) I’m being treated poorly to say the least . My manager had even been shown them on one of the cooks phone – just about everyone has now seen graphic photos of me now – the men are licking their lips and looking at me differently/intentionally allowing me to see them look me up and down in a very sexual manner. I am sick and disgusted about it. This doesn’t include the day before a guy at work that I’d turned down began to verbally spread personal embellished things about me/damaging to who I am. Is this slander in a sense along with sexual harassment in the work place ? – intentional form of communication – harming reputation – decreasing respect and regard and confidence – induces disparaging hostile opinions against a person. My managers give me the smallest section of tables now- team work when helping one another no longer includes me- I’m being spoken to even by the manager with disrespect as if I’m a bother. Being taking advantage of by having to do more side work than other servers c try have the power to demand what I complete before leaving. I’m desperate for help, please I’m feeling very broken and emotionally pained.
      Dear Pamela: We’re sorry to hear about this situation you find yourself in. You are now well aware of the danger in sexting anyone. But that doesn’t help, does it?
      You didn’t mention your age, but if you’re a teenager and living at home, talk with your parents as awkward as that may be. They will do what they can to protect you and can also talk with the police to see if any laws in your state have been or are being broken. You can also contact a local lawyer for advice. You may not have any options but it’s worth exploring. Some lawyers offer free consultations so ask about this if you call one.
      Whatever you do, Pamela, don’t keep this to yourself. Confide in someone you trust for support and guidance. Many young people find themselves in this situation and it’s not the end of the world. It will pass even if it means you quit your job and find another. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • S
      Thu, 30 Jan 2014 at 10:35

      If you were to recieve child pornography and it was only one picture but you saved the photo but then deleted the photo the next day, can you still use the defense that you took necessary steps to destroy the photo?
      Dear S: You would have to look to the laws of your state, but as long as you got rid of the photo and/or reported it to the authorities, you may have a decent defense. If you have further concerns about a specific situation, you may want to consider consulting with a local criminal defense attorney. Many attorneys offer a free initial consultation. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • d
      Fri, 31 Jan 2014 at 08:34

      Now how does this have effects internationally? Say someone in america age 18 trades pictures with a girl in a european country such as denmark after meeting online where they are legal at 16 and their current age is 17. the state law of the american has age of consent laws that give small wiggle room in a relationship of 16-17 y/o with the adult party age cap being 20-21 (in reference to the younger party). would possessing that photo still be possession of pornography of a minor or would the laws of the other country saying they are a legal adult counter it?
      Dear D: You have to look to the laws of the country you’re in, so if possessing a photo of an underage girl violates state and/or federal law here in the U.S., the person could face criminal charges regardless of the laws of the sender’s country. Thanks for asking.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • T
      Sat, 08 Feb 2014 at 03:22

      Can you still be convicted of sending harmful or lewd material to a minor if the picture you sent was of JUST a private part? No stimulation or anything just a plain picture of one’s genitals. Thank you.
      Dear T: Yes, any nude photo sent to a minor most likely can result in criminal charges. It’s possible that even a semi-nude photo can result in charges depending on the state’s laws.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • T
      Fri, 21 Feb 2014 at 01:41

      Say an 18 year old in California sent 3 nude photos to a 17 year old in Tennessee who sent one nude photo back and this all happened on one day. The 18 year old saves the photo of the 17 year old for evidence purposes but realizes it is a crime to possess it. Neither of them have sexted each other at all or since that one day it happened. The 18 year old has deleted every ounce of the photo off of his phone and even apologized to the 17 year old for sending the photos as it was disrespectful and was wrong. If he were to be prosecuted, is it likely he would not get a serious sentence since he deleted everything, never once sexted the girl again and (i dont even know if this matters) but apologized and acknowleged his wrongdoing and acknowledged that he learned from the incident.
      Dear T: You’ll have to look at the sexting laws of both states (if one exists) to see if any laws have been broken. Deleting such photos is a good idea and it can’t hurt to apologize, although it could be considered an admission if this went to court. It’s equally wise to resist showing the photo to others or sending it on since there’s no limit to its dissemination. Take a look at http://www.cyberbullying.us for the laws in each state. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • T
      Fri, 21 Feb 2014 at 02:03

      Thank you. I believe that this happened the beginning of December and nothing has been sent between the two individuals since then. The 18 year old has deleted all photos including the ones he sent, he only had the picture of the 17 year old for one day when he tried keeping it as evidence just in case. He told me he was not informed that sexting between an 18 and 17 year old was illegal since he figured it was such a close age range but then looked up the laws and saw it was illegal so deleted everything. Since this happened almost 3 months ago is there any way to tell if its more likely nothing is going to happen? This apparently happened over the app Kik.
      Also, is there any way a 19 year old citizen could fight the law (possibly by writing a letter or a research report) and change the sexting penalty for minors to be only community service or counseling rather than sex offender registry or jail time? Because I have been researching this and it is sickening to me how prosecutors are completely willing to heavily prosecute 13, 14, 15 year old teens and ruin their lives and reputations.
      Dear T: The more time that passes, the lesser the chance that formal charges will be filed. But you never know since most crimes carry what’s called a “statute of limitations.” That means the police and prosecutor have a specific period of time to file charges. It could be a year or more. Murder, for example, has no time limit. Charges can be filed 20, 30 years after the incident. The same with treason.
      The best way to bring about change is to campaign for it. Contact local legislators or other polticians who can bring about a policy or statutory change in the law. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Simpsoms
      Sun, 09 Mar 2014 at 08:54

      Hey I’m an 18 year old boy in Florida who has started to use some social network such as vine, snap chat and kik, 2 months ago. Ive seen lots of minors showing off their sexuality and nudes, commented and revined thieir posts, even skyped with some of them, but not showed my face, I’m kind of scared with all of this, I will never do anything referred to a mainor, could I get into truble because of this. Thanks very much
      Dear Simpsoms: Ultimately, it would depend on the laws of the states involved – your state and the minor’s state. However, since possession of a nude photo of a minor is unlawful in most states, you could hear from the police at some point if they decide to investigate this. If you are contacted about these photos, we suggest you contact a criminal defense lawyer in your area for advice. Good luck and think before doing anymore sexting – to adults or kids. Also, here is a chart concerning the sexting laws in each state.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Dee
      Thu, 03 Apr 2014 at 01:17

      I have a friend that was having a online relationship with a guy on FB who said he was 38yrs old. She sent pics & vids of herself to him through email & FB. They never met each other or even talked on the phone. But when she tried to break off the online relationship he sent her a letter apologizing for lying to her the whole time and that he was actually a 15yr old kid. Now he is harassing her & her family. Threatening to send them to porn websites and blackmailing people. Can she get in trouble if she never knew his age and has all FB conversations of him lying to her? She lives in NJ
      Dear Dee: You didn’t mention your friend’s age or if she is a minor. If she’s under 18, you would want to look to any sexting laws in your state. Check out this chart for more info about each state’s sexting law. Not all states have a specific sexting law, but criminal charges are usually a possibility through another law. If she is an adult, then she could be facing more serious consequences especially since he is a minor (if in fact, he is a minor). However, the most important thing here is that she is being blackmailed or what you may consider to be the victim of “sextortion.” Again, if she’s a minor, she really needs to talk to an adult she trusts about what is happening whether it’s her parents, a school counselor, teacher or friend’s parents. The police would be much more interested in going after the person blackmailing and threatening to spread the images and videos online. Good luck to your friend.
      (Check our Resource Directory for more help and resources in your area. This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • Jb
      Thu, 05 Jun 2014 at 02:21

      If you send a picture of your butt as a joke to someone is that illegal
      Dear Jb: You have to look to the specific sexting laws in your state. It could be a crime depending on the circumstances including ages of the people involved. Google the name of your state and “sexting laws” for information.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • K
      Thu, 19 Jun 2014 at 01:18

      Let’s say somebody is living in the US and they are using skype with somebody from a different country. they are nude, and are both minors, but no pictures are taken, just video. does this count as sexting and could you get caught for this?
      Ps. i have not done this just wondering..
      Dear K: It is possible that you could get into trouble for what you describe. Many states have sexting laws and it would depend on how the law reads and what it covers. Google the name of your state and “sexting laws” for information on this. It’s best not to engage in this behavior whether it’s against the law or not since it can backfire on you in the future in unexpected ways including employment, military service and educational pursuits. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Ron
      Wed, 09 Jul 2014 at 10:51

      Today, I received a sext from a partner (We’re both aged 16) on my cell phone on an app called Kik. I’m regretting receiving it and I’m more than willing to have a talk with her on why we shouldn’t have done this and why we shouldn’t do it again and deleting the photo on both ends. Can I still face legal trouble if I do so?
      Dear Ron: Some states have sexting laws that apply to minors (under 18). Your plan to delete what you received and talk to the girl about doing the same is good. As long as you don’t send it out to others or use it against her in any way, you should be clear from any criminal liability. To find out more about sexting where you live, Google the name of your state and “sexting laws.” Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Chantel Brink
      Thu, 31 Jul 2014 at 01:15

      Im currently married and will be fileing for divorce and when its finalized i wanted to find someone well i went on a dating website and talk to a guy and we sent ummm pictures how do i go about him deleting them permanently ???? and can someone do a full background check on me?
      Dear Chantel: AsktheJudge.info is an educational site for and about teens and the law. Unfortunately, there really is no such thing as deleting “permanently” since even deleted pictures can be found with certain technologies. You can try to remain calm and civil and respectfully request that he delete the photos. However, if you provided them to him with consent and were not blackmailed, threatened, etc., then there’s most likely no way to force him to delete the pics. At the same time, it’s unlikely that they would be discovered during a background check since those are usually conducted to reveal a person’s criminal record and not photos of the person online. Also, he would have to post them online and make them public in order for them to be found by anyone. Good luck. (Check our Resource Directory for more help and resources in your area. This is information only – not legal advice.)

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