What You Should Know About California Sexting Laws

Revenge Porn

Sexting is defined as the exchange of nude or sexually explicit images or text messages through mobile phones. Although many states have sexting laws aimed for adolescent people, California is one of the states that do not have such laws.

Some proposed bills asked for reduced consequences for minors that were involved in sexting have failed to pass in the state.

According to California law, nothing is illegal about possessing or sharing a sexually explicit image, if the parties involved in the sexting were consenting adults. But, it is illegal to take or share a graphic image of a person without their consent or knowledge. These types of acts are considered an invasion of privacy or unlawful peeking; both are violations under the California Penal Code.

If you’ve been the victim of this type of behavior, a sexual abuse attorney may be able to help.

California’s Revenge Porn Law

When couples are creating sexually explicit images or videos, it is assumed that it will be kept private. If one of the parties decides to share those images with a third party, without knowledge or consent from the involved party, the state of California considers the act as revenge porn.

Here are the elements that should be involved for an act to be considered revenge porn:

  • The image is of an identifiable person and shows their intimate body parts or shows the person in any sexual activity.
  • There was a sound understanding between the subject and distributor that the image was supposed to remain private.
  • One party intentionally distributed the image.
  • The distributor knows and expects that the distribution of the image will cause emotional distress to the other party.
  • The subject suffered emotional distress after the distribution of the images.

Penalties for revenge porn and cases of invasion of privacy include jail time up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000.

Teen Sexting in California

California does not have a law that will penalize sexting with underage people. While California’s laws are set up for the protection and safety of minors. The fact that the state does not have a sexting law can negatively affect older teenagers (eighteen and nineteen-year-olds) who are old enough and perhaps have a consensual relationship with a slightly younger teenager.

Any sexting that includes explicit images of a minor under the age of eighteen is considered possession and distribution of materials displaying lewd acts with children. If an eighteen-year-old possesses intimate photos of their partner who is, for example, sixteen or seventeen years of age, they can be charged as an adult in a severe crime.

Lewd acts with children is a crime that can be considered a misdemeanor or felony and brings a potential sentence of up to eighteen years in jail and lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Sexting places the involved parties in a vulnerable situation. This crime must be taken seriously, especially if an underage person is involved.

Sexual Offender Registry

Any person who was convicted of committing any of the crimes (revenge porn, invasion of privacy, child pornography) will be required to register in California’s sexual offender registry. A conviction for sending harmful matter with the intent to seduce an underage person does not require registration (in case if the conviction is a public offense and not a felony).

What to Do if this Happens to You?

Everyone decides whether they will take part in sexting, no matter how old they are. However, it is recommendable to participate in sexting only if you and the other party are consensual adults. Stay away from communicating with underage people (children under the age of eighteen), and do not send them nude photos or sexual messages.

In case you are a parent of a child or a teenager, talk to them about the dangers of sexting. It may seem like a harmless play, but distributing and posting sexual photos online can affect one’s life forever.

If you were a victim of revenge porn, child pornography, or invasion of privacy, you need to hire an attorney who will help you with your case.

Although California has no sexting laws and there is very little practice in courtrooms for such situations, it does not mean that you should remain silent.

Call your attorney and explain to them your situation. Your lawyer will evaluate your case and explain to you what you can expect from the outcome.

An experienced lawyer will know how to counsel you and guide you through this challenging process.

Contact our office today and schedule your first consultation. Our team is here for you.

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