What Makes Sexting Illegal?

man texting on smartphone

Sexting is the act of sending explicit text messages, photos, videos, or other types of media. In general, sexting is not a criminal offense. However, there are some situations in which sexting could lead to criminal charges. Let’s discuss what you should know before clicking send.

Sexting a Minor

Just as having physical sexual contact with a minor is illegal, so is sexting. Sending or receiving nude or sexually explicit photos of a minor under 18 may warrant child pornography charges.

This is punishable by:

  • Up to 20 years in prison
  • Hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines
  • Sex offender registration

Juveniles are not exempt from these risks. A minor under 18 taking and sharing explicit photos of themselves could technically be held responsible for creating and distributing child pornography. This is also true for minors soliciting and receiving sexual content from other minors.


An individual who sends unwarranted sexts could be charged with harassment. This is the case if they are asked to stop, but continue sending explicit content to an unconsenting receiver.

Revenge Pornography

It is illegal to send pornographic content of someone else without their consent. This may happen after a bad breakup or as blackmail. While a first offense is typically a misdemeanor, repeat offenses will be charged as felonies.

Both sexting harassment and revenge pornography are subject to civil penalties in addition to criminal charges. This means that the individual who received the unwanted sexual content, or had their private content shared without permission, can sue for compensation for emotional damages.

Oregon Sex Crimes Defense

Many people are unaware of how their online activity can get them into legal trouble. If you have recently been charged with an internet sex crime, contact The Law Office of Justin Rosas. We understand the devastating consequences of a sex crime conviction, and we want to help mitigate the potential effects. Give us a call at (541) 933-5972 to get started.