There are no written Michigan sexting laws. However, if the images depict a minor engaged in child sexually abusive activity or any content categorized as child pornography, the person involved may be charged under Michigan child pornography laws.
MICHIGAN SEXTING LAWS
Sexting is a term derived from sex and text message. It refers to sharing sexually explicit content via electronic means such as SMS, MMS, Facebook, WhatsApp, or other social media applications.
Although people of all ages can engage in this mode of sexual connection, it’s more prevalent among teens. That’s perhaps because of their newfound freedom, desire to explore, and easy access to phones.
Many people, particularly teens and preteens, think that consensual sharing of a sexually explicit image is legal, but nothing can be further from the truth.
When there are child sexually explicit images, or if people under the age of 18 are involved in producing and sharing child sexually abusive material, they risk facing criminal charges under Michigan’s child pornography laws, with offenses such as possession of child pornography.
What’s even worse, sexting could have other serious consequences beyond the possible legal ramifications. These include:
- Your explicit content being shared on social media
- Being signed up for porn sites and other inappropriate email subscriptions
In Michigan, the following laws can hold teenagers liable for sexting and sharing any child pornography:
DISSEMINATING SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATTER TO A MINOR
Disseminating sexually explicit matter to a minor is an offense under MCL 722.675(5):
- A person can be held guilty of disseminating sexually explicit matter to a person under the age of 18 under the following circumstances:
- The person knowingly disseminates visual or verbal sexually explicit material that is harmful to minors.
- The person knowingly exhibits to a minor any material that is sexually explicit and harmful to the minor.
- The accused person could be accused of knowingly disseminating sexually explicit materialto a minor if they acted while knowing the nature of the matter and that the individual, to whom the matter was disseminated, was a minor.
- The accused person can be said to know the nature of the matterif the accused was aware of its character and content or recklessly disregarded circumstances that suggested its character and content during the commission of the offense.
- An accused person could be said to have known the status of a minorif the person was either aware that the person to whom the dissemination was made was a minor or recklessly disregarded a substantial risk that the individual, to whom the material was disseminated, is under 18 years of age.
Upon a conviction for disseminating sexually explicit matters to a minor, a sex offender will be guilty of a felony according to Mi. Comp. Laws Ann. § 722.675 Sec.5. The penalties for this sex offense carry a penalty of not more than two years in prison, a fine not exceeding $ 10,000, or both.
Unlike other sex offenses, you do not have to undergo the Michigan Sex Offender Registry with your local and federal law enforcement agencies for a conviction with this sexual offense.
If you are being charged with disseminating sexually explicit photos, one of the best defenses is consent. You may argue that both parties consented to sexting to get lesser penalties, if that’s the case.
However, consent may not apply if one of the parties the sexually explicit image was sent to is a minor, so you’ll need to double-check with a criminal defense attorney who is well versed in Michigan child pornography laws and federal law to establish whether the aspect of consent will have any impact on your case.
POSTING MESSAGE THROUGH ELECTRONIC MEDIUM
Michigan law, under Mi. Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.411s, prohibits individuals from posting a message using any medium of communication, including the use of the internet, computer, computer program, computer network, computer system, or any other electronic medium of communication, without the victim’s consent or under any of the following circumstances:
- The person posting the message is aware, or has a reason to know, that posting the message can potentially cause two or more separate non-continuous acts of contact with the victim, without the victim’s consent.
- The intention of posting the sexting images or messages is to cause conduct that would result in the victim feeling frightened, terrorized, threatened, harassed, intimidated, or molested.
- Conduct arising from the posted sexting images or messages would reasonably cause the victim to suffer emotional distress or to feel frightened, terrorized, threatened, harassed, intimidated, or molested.
- Conduct arising from the posted sexting related message causes emotional distress to the victim and causes them to feel frightened, terrorized, threatened, harassed, intimidated, or molested.
According to MCL 750.411s, subsection 2, any person who violates subsection 1 of MCL 750.411s will be held guilty of a crime, per Michigan law, as follows:
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b) of subsection 1 of the MCL 750.441s, upon conviction, the accused will be guilty of a felony carrying a penalty of not more than two years in prison, a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both.
(b) A person may also be found guilty of a felony punishable by a prison time not exceeding a five-year prison sentence, a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both, if, per Michigan law, any of the following circumstances apply:
(i) The sexually explicit image or message was posted by the accused in violation of a restraining order.
(ii) The sexting message was posted by the accused in violation of probation, parole, pretrial release, or release on bond, pending appeal conditions
(iii) There is a credible threat to the victim, a member of their family, or any individual living in their household, resulting from the posted sexting message.
(iv) The accused has been previously charged with a similar or sexting-related offense.
(v) The victim is under 18 years of age, while the accused was more than five years older than the victim, during the commission of the offense.
Other penalties may include being ordered to compensate the government for expenses incurred due to the offense in question.
A possible defense for this sexting laws crime can be that the posted message falls under constitutionally protected free speech or activity.
Talking to a criminal defense attorney who is focused on these types of crimes can help you establish other possible diversion options for your case and can tell you what to expect in court. They can also show how to present the most compelling defense argument.
MALICIOUS USE OF SERVICE PROVIDED BY TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE PROVIDER
A person shall be guilty of malicious use of service provided by a telecommunications service provider with intent to frighten, terrorize, threaten, intimidate, harass, molest, annoy, or disturb the peace of another person, by doing any of the following:
(a) Threatening to cause physical harm or damage to property through a conversation or message via telecommunications service or device.
(b) Deliberately conveying false information on the death, injury, sudden illness, or accident of another person via telecommunications service or device.
(c) Deliberately failing to disengage a connection between telecommunication devices, or between a telecommunication device and the equipment provided by a service provider, to transmit messages using telecommunication services or devices.
(d) Using vulgar, offensive, indecent, or obscene language or suggesting lewd or larvicolous acts in a conversation or sexting message via telecommunication services or device.
(e) Repeatedly initiating a call and deliberately hanging up without speaking as or before the call is answered.
(f) Making unsolicited commercial telephone calls outside allowed hours.
(g) Deliberately engaging or causing another person’s telecommunication service or device to engage repetitively with intent to cause interruption or prevent the other person from utilizing their telecommunications service or device.
Upon a conviction with violation of Mi. Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.540e, a person will be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six months, a fine not exceeding $1,000, or both.
Alibi defense is one of the possible arguments for this offense. That means you’ll need to prove that someone else used your device to commit the crime. However, you must have evidence, and or witnesses, to back your defense argument.
HIRE NICOLE BLANK BECKER FOR YOUR MICHIGAN SEXTING CRIMES
If you or your child is facing child pornography charges that are sexting-related, you will need to work with a child pornography lawyer that is well versed with Michigan and federal law, relating to sex crimes.
Blank Law, PC, Nicole Blank Becker, has an outstanding reputation as a criminal defense lawyer solely focused on sex-related crimes in Michigan, and has more than 20 years of experience in Michigan criminal and federal law.
Nicole has been on both sides of the law – in the office of the prosecutor in Macomb County and Wayne County, and as a defense attorney. This makes her the best person for defending your sexting crimes and any child pornography/child sexually abusive material crimes, that could result from them.
Nicole understands that bad things happen to good people and aims to cultivate an excellent attorney-client relationship as to ensure you do not feel stigmatized, based on your charges. Nicole will ensure that you get the best possible defense for your charges and avoid sex offender registration, that accompanies a conviction with child pornography.