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Is Sexting a Crime in California?

When Sending Sexually Explicit Texts Is a Crime

Sexting or sending and receiving sexually explicit text messages is not always unlawful, but it can be in California. It is against the law to possess a video or photo of a person who is under the age of 18. Additionally, it is illegal to attempt to seduce a minor or send threatening or harassing messages. Depending on the message and the age of the parties, a sext could result in serious criminal penalties.

At Chastaine Jones, we represent individuals who have been charged with sex crimes in California. Our lawyers work tirelessly to protect our clients’ rights and to defend against any charges that they face. We have proven results and are unafraid to take cases to trial to get the results our clients deserve. If you were charged with sexting or another sex crime, contact our office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. 

What Is Sexting?

Sexting occurs when someone sends or receives sexually explicit content from another person. Sexting can be conducted via cell phone, social media, or across other platforms such as email. It solely requires that a sexual photo or video be sent via electronic messaging. 

Is Sexting Illegal in California?

Sexting between two consenting adults is not illegal in California. However, it is unlawful if the messages are sent to annoy, harass, or threaten the other person. Additionally, sending or receiving sexual photos or videos of a minor is illegal. 

It is not only against the law for an adult to exchange sexually explicit messages with a minor, but it is also illegal for minors to engage in sexting with each other. It does not matter whether the minor or minors consented to the sexting. 

What Can I Be Charged With If I Am Caught Sexting?

The main sexting statute is California Penal Code 288.2, which states that it is illegal for a person to send, distribute, or exhibit any “harmful matter” that shows a minor engaging in sexual conduct. It is unlawful to engage in this conduct if you knew, should have known, or believed that the person was a minor. 

The statute also prohibits sending anything to a minor with the intent to arouse or appeal to the sexual desires of a minor or with the intent to engage in a sexual act. A charge under this section of the Penal Code can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction.

In addition to this charge, a person can also be charged with other sex crimes, including solicitation of a minor, stalking, or possession of child pornography. Depending on the crime charged and the results of the case, you could have to register as a sex offender

If I Am a Minor, Can I Be Charged for Sexting?

Yes, you can still face criminal charges related to sexting, even if you are a minor. It is against the law to possess harmful matter depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Even if you are a minor yourself, you can still face criminal penalties.

Caught Sexting? Contact Our Office for a Free Consultation. 

Were you caught sending or receiving sexually explicit messages involving a minor? You could face serious criminal consequences. Contact our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We are located in Gold River and proudly serve Placer and Sacramento County.

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