Our phones have become central to every element of our lives – from online shopping to watching videos, chatting electronically, and more. It wasn’t much of a leap for our mobile devices to become tools for flirting with one another. In fact, sexting – sending suggestive texts or nude/sexually suggestive pictures electronically – has become fairly routine. When this happens between consenting adults, it’s harmless enough. When one or more participants, however, are under the age of consent, it becomes an especially dangerous practice. This remains true even when both the individuals involved are minors – because the pictures transmitted electronically remain sexual depictions of children.
Being charged with a juvenile sex offense is extremely serious, and the consequences can reverberate far into the accused’s future. If your teenager has been so charged, you need the professional legal services of an experienced, committed, and compassionate sex crimes attorney now.
Juveniles and the Law
The fact is that smartphones arm juveniles with a means to easily electronically send – however inadvertently – child pornography. The sexual behaviors, themselves, are generally well within the normal range, but when transmitted digitally, they become something altogether more serious. The State of Texas punishes sexting between minors under its law that prohibits the electronic transmission of sexual depictions of children, including pictures of the sender, the recipient, and/or any other minor.
Minors can raise a legal defense to allegations of sexting when certain conditions exist. These include:
- If the sender and recipient aren’t more than two years apart in age (even if one participant is over 18),
- If the sender and recipient were in a dating relationship,
- If the sender and recipient exchanged pictures of themselves only
In such a situation, the prosecution will generally pursue a misdemeanor-level charge. Nevertheless, any conviction on your child’s record is serious, and it is in his or her best interest to obtain experienced legal counsel as soon as an accusation is levied.
Consequences of Sexting in Texas
Sexting between minors is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas, which is the lowest level of misdemeanor. The penalties associated with a juvenile conviction, however, are significant:
- A fine of up to $500
- A criminal record
These consequences become more serious with additional convictions.
Cyberbullying and Harassment
If the sexting is deemed to be a form of cyberbullying or harassment, the associated penalties can also be increased. The recipient of such cyberbullying and/or harassment is unlikely to be charged – as long as he or she doesn’t forward the offending photos on to someone else. In other words, it’s complicated.
If Your Child Is Facing a Juvenile Sex Offense Charge, Contact Our Office Today
A sexual offense conviction can damage your child’s reputation and future prospects. Sex offense charges are difficult enough for adults, but children are especially ill-prepared to deal with the emotional and legal consequences. Attorney J. Michael Price II in Dallas is committed to aggressively advocating for your child’s rights and to skillfully fighting for the best possible resolution of his or her case. Mr. Price commits himself exclusively to defending the accused, and he’s here to help your child. For more information, contact or call us at 214-765-8000.