When Is Sexting Illegal?
?In the modern days, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook messaging, and other apps offer a convenient and flexible way to start and develop intimate relationships online. As a result, the inclination to create, possess, or share explicit images or videos electronically has become more common.
Under certain circumstances, sexting may constitute a criminal offense in Michigan, especially when one or more of those involved are minors. To help you understand and avoid the dire consequences of a sexting charge, we’ll explore everything about illegal sexting in Michigan.
Before we dive in too deep, let’s first understand what sexting means.
What Is Sexting?
Sexting is a term derived from sex and texting. It refers to sending, receiving, or forwarding of explicit or suggestive content – messages, photographs, or videos. In most cases, it includes the use of cell phones, computers, or any digital device or platform.
While people of all age groups can use this method of sexual connection, it is more common among tech-savvy teens and young adults. Studies show that approximately 15 percent of teens have sent explicit images or videos, and around 27 percent of teens have received a sext.
When Is Sexting Illegal?
What Does Michigan Law Say About Sexting?
In Michigan, sexting is legal between consenting adults. However, the act may lead to criminal charges under the child pornography statute, especially if minors are involved.
As per the Michigan Penal Code, Section 750.145c, it is a criminal offense to knowingly create, possess, or disseminate sexually explicit material to (or involving) anyone under the age of 18 years. Similarly, any person who coerces, entices, induces, or otherwise allows a minor to create, possess, or share child sexual abusive materials or engage in a sexually abusive activity like sexting may face felony charges. That means you could face criminal charges for asking for, receiving, or sharing a nude photo or video of your 17-year-old (or younger) partner via phone or any electronic means.
Possible Consequences Of Illegal Sexting In Michigan
Illegal sexting is a serious criminal offense in Michigan. A conviction could result in a felony-level charge, which often involves a significant amount of time in prison and/or hefty fines.
Being a crime that involves defenseless individuals (minors), prosecutors will almost always pursue maximum penalties and sentences as stated under the law. Nevertheless, the penalty imposed will often vary based on the state sentencing guidelines and the judge’s full discretion.
Some Of The Statutory Penalties For Illegal Sexting In Michigan
- Up to 20 years in prison or a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both for involving or engaging a minor in a sexually abusive activity such as sexting (Mich. Comp Laws Ann. & 750.145c(2)(a))
- Up to 7 years in prison or a fine of as much as $50,000, or both for distributing or promoting any child sexually abusive material (Mich. Comp Laws Ann. & 750.145c(3)(a))
- A 4-year prison sentence or a fine of up to $10,000, or both for knowingly possessing child sexually abusive materials (Mich. Comp Laws Ann. & 750.145c(4)(a))
Registering As A Sex Offender
Besides the prison time and fines, anyone convicted of illegal sexting must register as a sex offender on Michigan’s public Sex Offender Registry. In other words, they must provide the local law enforcement agency with personal details as required by the Sex Offender Registration Act. These include your registerable offense, name, fingerprints, photographs, proof of residence, employment information, vehicle information, and any known aliases – MCL 28.727.
Having your personal information made public for up to 15 years, 25 years, or even life can be quite embarrassing. Even worse, it may ruin your freedom, finances, and reputation in society, meaning you’ll have more trouble getting a job or have difficulty getting into the college of your choice.
Suspension For Students
High school and college teenagers face a wealth of confusing and conflicting new emotions due to evolving sexuality. The task of navigating love and relationships for the first time does not make things any better.
As such, it’s not unusual for students to create, possess, or share racy photos through text messages, Instagram, Snapchat, and digital platforms while in school. When this happens, school-going teenagers may be suspended or even expelled for illegal sexting because of anti-bullying laws.
Other Potential Risks Associated With Sexting
Whether you are an adult or a teenager, sexting can create far worse problems, even if you don’t face legal ramifications. If, for example, the explicit images or videos end in the hands of a cyberbully, it may use it to harass you by:
- Signing you up for inappropriate email subscriptions or porn sites
- Posting explicit photos or videos on social media networks
Can My Child Be Charged With Illegal Sexting?
Certainly! Much like adults, children involved in illegal sexting could face harsh punishment under the child pornography law. If, for instance, your teenage child persuades their girlfriend or boyfriend to create or share explicit photos or videos, he or she could face potential penalties under Michigan’s 1931 Child Sexually Abusive Material Law.
As a preteen or teenager parent, you have a duty to let your children know the potential legal ramifications of sexting. More importantly, it would help if you reminded them that any message, image, or video they create or share electronically has the potential to remain on the internet forever. Even if they absolutely trust the person they are sending to, data breaches are inevitable – they can happen anytime, anywhere.
How Do I Handle Sexting Charges In Michigan?
Facing child pornography allegations can be devastating. The implication of a charge or conviction is far more severe as such a crime carries severe punishment under Michigan law.
However, being accused of or charged with child pornography production, distribution, or possession in Michigan does not deprive you of the right to defend yourself. Better still, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be found guilty just because you have been accused or arrested for this crime.
If you or your teenage child has been arrested, are under investigation, or facing potential sexting charges, you owe it to yourself to hire a Michigan criminal defense lawyer. A skilled attorney who’s focused on defending sex crimes will help you fight your charges.
With lots of experience, expertise, and legal resources, they will investigate every detail of your child pornography case so they can understand all the facts. Better still, they will work aggressively to build individualized criminal defense arguments that will challenge whatever evidence the prosecution has against you.
Let Blank Law, PC Fight Your Charges
Even though Michigan does not have specific sexting laws, a conviction could have serious, life-altering consequences.
If you or your teenage child has been arrested for, accused of, or are under investigation for a sexting-related crime in Michigan, Blank Law, PC is ready to help. Our Michigan criminal defense attorney, Nicole Blank Becker, has extensive experience defending clients against sex crime charges.
Regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding your case, she will work with compassion, professionalism, and dedication to ensure that you get the most favorable outcome possible.
Call or text our offices today at 248-505-5929 to book a free initial consultation.