“Sexting” is the practice of sending and receiving sexually charged and sexually explicit text, images, and videos. Sexting can be done via text message, email, through social media, or through other means.
Many different actions fall into the category of “sexting.” These include:
- Knowingly possessing an image or video of a minor engaged in sexual activity or posing in a sexual manner;
- Sharing, selling, or promoting a sexually explicit image or video of a minor; and
- Encouraging, coercing, or persuading a minor to share sexually explicit images or videos or him- or herself or to create this type of imagery or video.
Sexting as a Child Pornography Charge
It is not illegal for adults to sext with each other consensually. It is illegal for individuals under 18 to share sexually explicit images of themselves and other minors, even if these images were taken and shared consensually. Possessing and sharing sexually explicit images of minors may be charged as the possession or distribution of child pornography. Michigan law does not recognize a difference between a minor in possession of child pornography and an adult in possession of child pornography. Additionally, an adolescent who creates sexually explicit images, even of him- or herself, may be charged with the production of child pornography.
Other charges your child could face for having and sharing sexually explicit messages include harassment, cyberbullying, and the distribution of obscene material.
What to Do if your Child is Charged with a Sexting-related Offense
If your child is convicted of possession of child pornography or another one of the charges listed above, he or she can face fines, jail time, and required registration with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. As the parent, it is your job to protect your child and his or her rights by working with an experienced juvenile defense lawyer to fight the charge. Speak with the lawyer about your child’s defense options. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a lack of evidence linking him or her to an incident or showing that he or she knowingly possessed the material can be key pieces of his or her defense strategy.
In addition to the criminal penalties associated with a sexting-related conviction, your child could be suspended or expelled from school. This can have long-term consequences for him or her, such as negatively impacting his or her higher education opportunities.
Work with an Experienced Michigan Juvenile Defense Lawyer
If your son or daughter is facing a child pornography charge or another charge related to sexting, be proactive and start working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Work with a lawyer who has experience working with juvenile defendants, because the juvenile justice system is quite different from the adult justice system. Contact Michigan Defense Law today to set up your initial legal consultation with our firm.