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Selfies & Child Pornography

Published: Apr 19, 2018 in Sex Crimes

Just about everyone takes selfies these days. In some cases, however, taking, sending, and storing selfies could result in criminal penalties – even child pornography charges. For example, if you are 17 years old or younger, you are not allowed to send any sexually explicit images of yourself to anyone over two years older than you, and with whom you do not have a dating relationship. And no matter what your age may be, it is illegal to intentionally and knowingly possess any explicit images of children under the age of 18.

The laws surrounding sexting and minors can be confusing. If you’ve been accused of possessing child pornography in relation to a selfie, contact a criminal defense attorney from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free, initial case evaluation.

Texas Law Prohibits Teens From Sharing Nude Selfies

Illegal sexting is defined in Section 43.261 of the Texas Penal Code, and it deals with “the electronic transmission of certain visual material depicting a minor.” It’s a crime for any person under the age of 18 to intentionally and knowingly:

  • Send by electronic means any visual material depicting themselves or any other minor engaged in sexual conduct; OR
  • Possess on an electronic medium any visual material of themselves or another minor engaged in sexual conduct

This offense is a class C misdemeanor, carrying a maximum $500 fine. However, if a prosecutor can show that the image was sent to harass, abuse, offend, or intimidate someone, the offense increases to a class B misdemeanor, punishable by 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines. Finally, repeat offenders may face class A misdemeanor charges, in which case the penalties increase to one year in jail and $4,000 in fines.

Per Texas Penal Code Section 43.25, sexual conduct involving a minor includes “sexual contact, actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, sado-masochistic abuse, or lewd exhibition of the genitals, the anus, or any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola.” In other words, your selfie will be treated as sexual whether it includes a portion of a breast or explicit sex acts.

Fortunately, some teenagers have a defense. So long as they are in a dating relationship, it’s not a crime for two minors to share sexually explicit photos and videos between themselves.

Can I Get Charged with Child Porn Possession for Sending or Receiving Nude Selfies?

Texas Penal Code Section 43.26 defines the crime of possession of child pornography as knowingly possessing or accessing visual material depicting a child under the age of 18 who is engaging in sexual conduct (regardless of whether it was consensual).

This is a much more serious crime. As a felony, a conviction almost certainly involves prison time or heavy fines. However, a teen who sends or possesses explicit images of themselves or other teens will likely not get charged under this statute. Section 43.261 and its relatively lax penalties apply to such situations.

Are You in Trouble for Selfies and Child Pornography? Call Us for Help Today

If you are an adult and you receive a sexually explicit selfie from a minor, it is possible for you to get charged with possession of child pornography. If this happens to you, you should call a Houston child sex abuse attorney from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett to determine the best course of action. Remember that anything you say and anything you send or receive electronically can and will be used as evidence against you.

For a free and confidential consultation, contact us today at (713) 222-6767.