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Is Sexting a Crime in Texas?

These days, just about everyone between the ages of 13 and 80 have a smartphone and each year, the minimum age to own a cellphone seems to get younger and younger. Children as young as seven or eight can be seen in elementary schools carrying around their own smartphones. While children and teens use their phones to call their parents, Google definitions in school, watch Netflix and play video games, teens are using them for more sinister reasons, such as sexting.

Sexting is a common practice among consenting adults, which consists of sending sexually graphic pictures to each other in various stages of undress. Minors however, have caught on and they too are sending sexually graphic pictures to each other. Sometimes minors will share these pictures with friends or even the whole school.

Such pictures have been used to cyberbully, and to humiliate the person depicted in the photograph. Other times, adults and teens have coerced a minor into sending nude photographs of themselves, and the photographic evidence has been used to threaten and blackmail the minor in the photograph.

When is Sexting Illegal for Minors?

In Texas, a person can face serious criminal charges if they get involved in sexting with a minor. Sexting (involving minors) is criminalized under two Texas laws: 1) Section 43.264 of the Texas Penal Code, Electronic Transmission of Certain Visual Material Depicting Minor, and 2) Possession or Promotion of Lewd Visual Material Depicting a Child under Section 43.262 of the Texas Penal Code. Even minors can face criminal charges if they get involved in sexting – one doesn’t have to be 18 or over to get in trouble with the law.

Under Sec. 43.262, a person commits the offense if he or she “knowingly possesses, accesses with the intent to view, or promotes visual material” that depicts the lewd exhibition of a minor’s pubic area or genitals whether the minor is unclothed, partially unclothed or clothed, and it is a sexual picture and it has no “literary, artistic, political, or scientific value,” according to the statute.

A first offense under Sec. 43.262 is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days to two years confinement and by a fine not to exceed $10,000. An offense under Sec. 43.264 is prosecuted as either a Class A, B, or C misdemeanor depending on the facts of the case, including the defendant’s criminal history among other factors.

Is your child accused of sexting in Plano, Dallas or Fort Worth? Contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC to protect your child’s interests and their future!