Tacoma Sexting Lawyer
Communications technology has created risks of criminal liability in ways few people could have imagined even just a few years ago. “Sexting,” the practice of sending sexually explicit messages via mobile phone, has had unexpected and occasionally outrageous consequences for people who may not have thought they were doing anything improper. Washington has no laws that specifically address sexting, but prosecutors have brought cases by piecing together various sex-crime statutes, particularly those prohibiting child pornography. These laws can ensnare people who merely receive a “sext,” even if they neither solicited nor viewed the allegedly obscene material. If you are involved in any sort of sexting-related investigation or prosecution, you should immediately consult with a Washington sex crimes defense lawyer who knows how prosecutors have applied Washington’s criminal laws to the latest technologies.
What is “Sexting”?
“Sexting” generally refers to the exchange of sexually explicit messages via electronic communications. Text messages with sexually explicit images attached, sent via cell phone, have been the most controversial, since many people carry their phones with them at all times, share their phones with others, and share images sent to their phones with others via the internet and social media.
Legal Risks of Sexting
The greatest legal risk related to sexting arises from the transmission or possession of sexually explicit images. Minors, specifically teenagers, may be at the greatest risk of legal liability, not only because of their possible failure to understand those legal risks, but also the risk that criminal liability could result from sending sexually-explicit images of themselves. Prosecutions could result from a sexting incident based on the alleged display of sexually explicit material, or from the alleged possession, distribution, or even production of child pornography.
Risks of Sexting for Adults
Sexually-explicit messages sent between consenting adults carry the lowest risk of criminal liability. However, if someone sends such a message to an unsuspecting recipient, or if an individual is indiscrete in how they view such material on a mobile device, they could violate statutes prohibiting the display of sexually-explicit material.
Adults who exchange sexually-explicit messages, images, or videos with minors face more obvious criminal risks, but minors who engage in such conduct may face the same risks.
Risks of Sexting for Minors
Minors may face the most significant risks of criminal liability. Prosecutors have sought child pornography charges against minors as a result of sexting. In several cases around the country, prosecutors have charged minors with possession of child pornography based solely on pictures they took of themselves, whether or not they transmitted those photographs to anyone else. People who received such images on their mobile devices have faced similar charges, even after they proved that they neither requested nor viewed the allegedly obscene images. Children could end up with a lifelong sex offender registration requirement, merely for taking a picture of themselves.
Our legal system tends to adapt slowly to new technology. In the case of “sexting,” prosecutors are not waiting for the law to adapt, and the results can be both absurd and tragic. If you are facing sex crimes charges related to alleged sexting, you need the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable Washington criminal defense attorney. I have protected the rights of defendants in criminal cases throughout Washington, including people charged in legally novel situations like sexting. Through rigorous examination of police conduct and the state’s handling of evidence, I have obtained substantially reduced sentences, acquittals, and dismissals for clients in a large number of cases. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, please contact us today online or at (888) 312-3093.