Is sexting a crime when minors willingly send photos?

Is sexting really a crime you should worry about if you’re a minor? Can someone accuse you of doing something wrong, just because you wrote it in a text or email? The fact is that even sexting can be criminalized, and if you interact with a minor or send threatening or harassing messages, those messages could result in a charge.

Sexting doesn’t just involve text; sexting is the act of sending lewd material via images or suggestive texts to another person. It can be difficult to know who’s on the other side of the texts, especially if you are only dating online or haven’t met the other party.

Sending images to a minor, even if you don’t know it’s a minor, can result in you being charged with a child pornography crime in Maryland. Prosecutors tend to have discretion in those cases, though, and could choose not to bring the charges against you if there is a lack of evidence against you.

Even minors can get into trouble for sexting; technically, no matter your age, sending a lewd message to a minor is illegal. On the other hand, sending images to an adult is an issue, too. Minors can’t give consent, so if they are willingly sending images to an adult, that adult can still be charged with a crime.

In some jurisdictions, sexting has been decriminalized when an image is being sent from one minor to another. In others, this is still a crime that can end up tarnishing a minor’s record and even landing him or her on a sex offender registry.

Source: FindLaw, “Sexting,” accessed Feb. 04, 2016