At the Griffin Law Office, APC, our San Diego sex crimes defense attorney knows technology has grown in monumental ways over the past few decades. In 2002, Nokia, then the world’s largest cellphone manufacturer, launched a model called the Nokia 7650, the first one with a built-in camera.
Since then, smartphones have brought endless forms of communication, including using these devices to send sexually explicit messages, images, or videos via text or other mobile apps. This behavior has become so widespread that it has a name: Sexting.
In California, the laws separating the legal transmission of these images are often complex.
Here, our San Diego County criminal defense attorney explains when sexting crosses the legal line.
Consenting Adults Sharing Sexually Explicit Messages, Images, or Videos Does Not Violate California Laws
It is perfectly legal for consenting adults in California to share sexual or suggestive messages, images, or videos. However, it is illegal to electronically share sexual images of a person taken without their knowledge or consent.
The instant a minor is involved, sexting becomes a crime that carries serious consequences.
Sexting With Teenagers is Always Illegal in California
It is against the law in California to possess, produce or distribute “obscene matter” depicting children younger than 18, as it violates the state’s child pornography law and, depending on the transmission, may violate federal child pornography laws.
It is also against California criminal laws to sexting with a minor, regardless of whether the minor consented or if both people are under 18. It is a crime to send, distribute, or offer to, using electronic communication, any harmful matter — described as anything that offensively depicts sexual conduct — to a minor intending to sexually gratify or appeal to them and/or seduce or arouse them.
What Happens When Adults Intentionally Distribute Private Images to Others?
When an individual initially consents to sexual images being taken of them with the expectation that they are kept private, and another party shares the images without the individual’s consent, it is called “revenge porn,” otherwise known as non consensual pornography.
In 2013, California officially criminalized revenge porn and recently expanded its protections.
The legal definition of non consensual pornography must meet multiple factors, including:
- An image of an intimate body part — including the genitalia, anus, or breast — of another identifiable person or an image of that person engaged in sexual intercourse, sodomy, oral copulation, or masturbation.
- There was an understanding between the distributor and the photo’s subject that the image would remain private.
- One party intentionally distributes that image.
- The distributor knows or would reasonably expect that the distribution of the image will cause the person severe emotional distress.
- The subject depicted in the images suffers severe emotional distress.
If you have been accused of inflicting severe emotional distress on an ex-partner, friend, or family member that rises to the level of revenge porn in California, contact our skilled sex crimes defense attorney in San Diego today to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the best outcome for your criminal charges.
Contact Our San Diego Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer at The Griffin Law Office Today
As technology continues to evolve, so will California’s criminal laws. Remember, it is not enough to state that you did not know the person was underage or did not think you were breaking any laws. If you are being investigated for a sex crime or have already been arrested and charged, we can help you understand your legal rights and options, so you do not have to fear the unknown.