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Texas Sexting Lawyer: Sexting Laws in Texas

The laws around sex crimes are not always crystal clear — especially when it comes to the sexting laws in Texas — and often require a sexting lawyer to defend your legal rights when facing charges. Some of the most common questions people ask us about Texas sexting laws as sex crime defense lawyers include “Is sexting legal in Texas between adults?” or “Can I go to jail for sexting?” and even “Can sexting lead to child pornography charges?”

While sexting between two consenting adults is not a crime, Texas sexting laws can be confusing, and the penalty for illegal sexting can be devastating, ranging from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. If you or your child have been charged with a sexting crime, don’t panic — get powerful Dallas/Fort Worth sexting defense from Westfall Sellers, and learn as much as you can about this touchy subject.

Sexting laws in Texas

According to Texas Penal Code 46.261, sexting a minor is classified as the Electronic Transmission of Certain Visual Material Depicting a Minor. This law applies to any minor (anyone under the age of 17) who knowingly or intentionally:

  • Uses electronic means to promote sexually explicit photos, or any other visual material depicting a minor engaging in sexual conduct, of themselves or anyone else under the age of 17, or
  • Possesses a digital copy of any visual material depicting someone, including themselves, under the age of 17 engaging in sexual activity

In both of the above scenarios, Texas law requires that the accused must have either a) produced the visual material themselves, or b) know that another minor did so, in order to be convicted of a crime.

Sexting between two adults in a consensual setting does not break Texas sexting laws. However, sexting can become a crime when private photos are shared without the consent of the person in them regardless of age.

If you or your child are facing charges for sexting a minor in Texas, you need to hire an aggressive sexting lawyer immediately. Penalties for sexting alone can be severe but these charges can quickly lead to other cyber sex crime convictions including:

  • Online solicitation of a minor
  • Possession or promotion of child pornography
  • Display of harmful material to a minor
  • Unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material.

Not to mention that a conviction may mean spending a lifetime on the Texas sex offender registry.

What is the legal punishment for sexting?

Is sexting a felony or misdemeanor? How sexting is classified depends on the nature of the offense and the age of the individual being charged with sexting.

The legal punishment for sexting as a juvenile teen versus an adult is as follows.

Juvenile sexting penalties in Texas

A teen charged with sexting could be facing a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. However, the offense will be bumped up to a class B misdemeanor if it is shown that the actor promoted the sexually explicit material with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another — or if they have previously faced similar charges.

The offense will be considered a class A misdemeanor if they have previously been charged with promoting electronic visual material depicting sexual activity in an attempt to harass or offend another OR they have two or more similar convictions.

Texas sexting laws do make exceptions with regard to sexting charges for minors. Teenage sexting is not considered a crime in Texas as long as the person sending the message is the only person seen in the visual material, is no more than two years older than the recipient (reference the Romeo and Juliet Law in Texas), and the two were in a dating relationship at the time of the sexting.

Adult sexting penalties in Texas

Individuals over the age of 17 can get into legal trouble for sexting in the state of Texas, whether they’re sexting a minor or another adult.

Although sexting another legal adult over the age of consent is legal, it becomes illegal when those sexually explicit photos or videos are shared without consent. This is defined as Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Material in Section 21.16 of the Texas Penal Code, and is legally defined as posting an explicit image of someone without their consent. When an adult intentionally distributes or discloses photos or videos of another adult engaging in sexual activity, they must have the consent of the individual depicted in the material.

Sending or posting photos or videos without the consent of the individual engaging in sexual activity within the photo is considered a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000.

Adults caught sexting with minors are in even bigger trouble under Texas sexting laws. Receiving, sending, or exchanging sexually explicit visual materials with a minor is considered possession of child pornography, regardless of consent. If caught, you’re facing a 3rd-degree felony that can be upgraded to a 1st-degree felony if you knowingly shared or distributed these sexually explicit materials electronically or through any other means.

Continue reading: What is the legal age of consent in Texas?

What is the statute of limitations for sex crimes in Texas?

Many wonder if their sexting lawyer can use the statute of limitations on sexting in Texas to help defend their case, or whether a mistake from their far-off past could still come back and cause legal trouble.

For more serious sexting accusations, like those involving child pornography, sexting laws in Texas state that the statute of limitations can be as long as 20 years. However, if the sexting accusation involved only adults, the statute of limitations could be anywhere between 3-10 years, depending on the specifics and severity of the case.

Note that, in general, the statute of limitations is useful only for keeping your case out of court and is not typically used as a strategy in court. When facing any sex crime charges, it’s crucial to your case that you hire a lawyer well-versed in the laws of Texas sex crimes. The language within these laws can be hard to follow and the punishments can be severe. Don’t leave the future of yourself or your family up to fate. Hiring a knowledgeable sexting lawyer can be what saves your future and your reputation.

Charged with sexting in Texas? Call the aggressive sexting defense lawyers at Westfall Sellers.

If you, your child, or a loved one have been charged with a crime related to sexting, the clock is ticking. Texas sexting laws can be harsh, and hiring an experienced Texas sexting lawyer is the only way to get your case under control and prevent harmful allegations from ruining your life.

With decades of experience in the courtroom, the Fort Worth sex crimes attorneys at Westfall Sellers know the defense strategies that can make or break your sexting case in court.

Don’t risk your case to a lesser attorney. Contact Westfall Sellers today at 817-928-4222 to schedule a free consultation today.

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