Nearly everyone has a cell phone these days, including children. Sending texts and sharing photos are commonplace, whether you are 17 or 37 years old. In most situations, sending photos to friends is no big deal, but what happens when those photos turn sexual? Is sexting a crime? In some cases, sending or receiving suggestive texts and pictures could land you in hot water.
If you or someone in your family is facing charges connected with sexting, it’s crucial to speak with a Nebraska criminal defense lawyer right away.
What Is Sexting?
Sexting is the act of sending sexy images, videos, or messages through your phone, tablet, or computer. The content of these transmissions can include:
- Nearly nude or completely nude photos;
- Text messages that are sexual, refer to sexual acts, or propose sex; and
- Videos that depict partial or total nudity, simulated sex, or sex acts.
Sending messages that could be considered sexting is common with teenagers. Sometimes it’s done as a joke or as the result of peer pressure. Outside of any legal issues, sexting can be devastating if those messages end up posted online.
When and Who Can You Get in Trouble for Sexting?
Understandably, people have a lot of questions when it comes to sexting. Is sexting against the law? Is sexting a crime for adults? Is sexting a federal offense or a state crime?
When sexting occurs between two consenting adults, sending messages to each other is not a Nebraska crime. The problems start when those messages are forwarded to others or posted online. At that point, the offender could be breaking both Nebraska laws and federal laws. Depending on the sender’s intent, there could be wiretapping, stalking, sexual harassment, or extortion charges.
When a minor is involved, both federal and state law make sexting a crime. The alleged offender could face child pornography charges as well. Penalties will vary based on parties involved, circumstances, and whether it’s a state or federal offense. Juvenile penalties are often less severe and might range from a warning to detention. If someone is charged as an adult, they could be facing up to 20 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. They most likely will need to register as a sex offender as well.
Teen sexting laws are not limited to just sending messages. Receiving them can also get you in trouble. You can’t really control who sends you something, but you can control whether you keep it or not. Therefore, the courts look at whether the person kept the image or deleted it upon receipt.
If both parties are teenagers, there may be another specific Nebraska law that applies. Teenagers who are no more than two years in age apart may not be in legal trouble, provided the sender is less than 19 years old and the recipient is no younger than 15.
Are There Defenses to Sexting?
In Nebraska, you may have several affirmative defenses available. One is when the person who created the image is under 18 years old, and there is no one else but that person in the image. The other possible defense is when the sender believes the recipient is at least 15 years old and willing to accept the image.
If the case involves a sexting sting, some law enforcement officers push legal boundaries, and that could open the door for an entrapment defense.
When to Call an Attorney
If you or someone you love is facing charges related to sexting, you need to speak with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney right away. Contact Petersen Criminal Law today to schedule an initial consultation.
Attorney Tom Petersen has decades of experience defending clients for various criminal offenses, including sex crimes. Let us put our experience to work for you and help prepare the best defense possible.