Sometimes a case can seem so straightforward that you tell yourself you don’t need legal advice. Trust us, every criminal charge is complex, and you’ll want an experienced California defense strategist at your side. Otherwise, you’re at risk of facing lengthy prison sentences and paying hefty fines. Not to mention, a criminal record can follow you long after you’ve served your time. But you shouldn’t want just any sexting attorney. Instead, choose attorneys from an award-winning law firm committed to representing its clients aggressively, professionally, and honestly. We at My Rights Law are those sex crimes lawyers. Call us today at (888) 702-8882 or contact us by filling out our secure web form to schedule a free consultation.
It may come as a surprise, but you can get in serious trouble if police arrest you for sexting. California law enforcement agents do not take this sex crime lightly. Although the law permits you to send explicit (i.e., nude, sexual) pictures to others, it becomes illegal under certain circumstances. Don’t wait until the handcuffs are on to know when you need to stop sending those flirtatious messages. Instead, if you like to play around with texting sexually suggestive pictures or words, or you know someone who does, continue reading below to see when California says it’s illegal.
Sexting is an umbrella term for several California penal codes that address sex and violent crimes, such as lewd acts involving a minor, stalking, and harassment. For example, suppose a thirteen-year-old boy accuses you of sending him sexual content. The conversation between you reveals that you intended to create arousal or sexual gratification for yourself or the victim. In this case, the police can say you’ve violated Penal Code 288.2, sending harmful matter to induce a minor. But had you persuaded the child to send you naked photos, the police can arrest you for violating Penal Code 311, obscene matter involving a minor.
In other words, sexting covers an array of crimes. It is not a separate and distinct crime. It’s typical for police to charge you with the following if someone accuses you of unlawfully sexting:
Invasion of privacy
Lewd acts involving a minor
How Does The Law Define Sexting?
Sexting occurs when you send an explicit and sexually suggestive picture or videos to another person through electronic means. Electronic means include your pc, laptop, tablet, and cell phone. Bear in mind that sexting does not only refer to pictures and videos. Sexually suggestive words are also sexting. Thus, the police may arrest you for sending inappropriate messages regardless of whether you sent naked photos.
When Is Sexting Illegal?
Sexting is illegal when:
It involves a minor.
You save images of a minor.
You do it to harass, stalk, threaten, or annoy the receiver
When Is Sexting Legal?
You may sext with someone lawfully under certain conditions. The person you’re sending sexual content to must be a consenting adult. Consider this example. Kayla and Raymond follow each other on Instagram. Kayla began messaging Raymond. Before long, the two engaged in a flirtatious conversation. Eventually, Kayla asked Raymond to show her “what you’re working with,” so Raymond sent a picture of his genitals. Then, Raymond asked Kayla to return the favor, so she responded by sending a photo of her breasts. Kayla is twenty-five, and Raymond is twenty-four. In this case, neither committed a crime.
Before sexting, you should always verify whether the other party wants an explicit photo first. It’s in your best interest not to assume that someone wants certain materials from you merely because you two are flirting. Even if you two have had sexual intercourse, you should ask whether the person you’re messaging wants a picture or explicit messages from you. Moreover, you should only send photos or explicit messages after verifying that the other person is an adult. Some sex crime laws involving minors do not offer a defense if you sincerely believe the other party was an adult.
What Are The Penalties For Sexting?
Sexting is a wobbler offense. Thus, California police can charge you with a misdemeanor or felony offense. Several factors impact how the state will charge you. Ultimately, the penalties you may face can depend on your charges. See below for the possible penalties for common sexting crimes.
Penal Code 649.9 covers stalking, which is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1000 if the state charges you with this offense as a misdemeanor. However, suppose the court previously issued a temporary restraining order against you because of stalking. Then, a jury finds you guilty of stalking. In this case, a judge may increase your sentence to four years. If you’re found guilty of stalking as a felony, a judge may sentence you to five years. Furthermore, you may have to register as a sex offender if certain circumstances apply.
Harmful Matter Sent To Seduce A Minor
Penal Code 288.2 covers this offense. Harmful matter sent to seduce a minor is punishable by up to one year in county jail if charged as a misdemeanor and punishable by up to five years if charged as a felony.
Annoying Phone Calls
Penal Code 653m covers this misdemeanor crime. A judge may sentence you up to six months in county jail, order you to pay a fine of $1000, or both if a jury finds you guilty. 
Other penalties for sexting are:
Loss of employment
Loss of job certifications and licenses
Denial into educational programs
Sex offender registration
Difficulty securing employment post-incarceration
What Are Sexting Defenses?
As with every crime, there are defenses at your disposal. The nature of your defenses depends on the facts of your case. Each case is specific, and your seasoned sexting criminal defense attorney can only craft strategic defenses after conducting a thorough investigation. During the investigation, you must be honest and upfront with your attorneys, comply with your attorneys and avoid speaking about your case with anyone—including police officers—unless your attorneys are present. We will conduct an in-depth investigation to discover favorable evidence.
Common defenses for sexting crimes include, but are not limited to:
Fourth Amendment violation
Mistake of fact
Contact a sex crimes defense lawyer if you have been charged with sexting or any other sex offense in the state.
Call My Rights Law’s California Sexting Lawyer Today
Sexting involves sending and/or receiving sexual messages through your electronic device (like a smartphone or laptop). The messages may involve sexual images or other explicit sexual content. In many cases, people who are romantically involved (boyfriend/girlfriend, married couples) may “sext” each other by sending sexually explicit images.
Generally speaking, private sharing of nude or suggestive photos between consenting adults is not unlawful under California sexting laws. However, the California Penal Code on sex crimes makes sexting a crime in some circumstances due to concerns about risks to safety and privacy.
Sexting can lead to serious sex crimes charges. If the person in the photo or video is a minor child, the viewer can be charged with possession of child pornography, a serious offense. Even if both parties consented to the messaging, cases that involve child pornography are taken very seriously, and can often result in felony criminal charges. Contact My Rights Law criminal defense lawyers to take advantage of your free consultation today for a tailored defense. Call us at (888) 702-8882 or contact us through our secure web form.
To provide the best experiences, we use technologies like cookies to store and/or access device information. Consenting to these technologies will allow us to process data such as browsing behavior or unique IDs on this site.
Functional Always active
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.