When Kids Share Sexually Explicit Images with Other Kids

Parents are presented with a new concern as minors take part in sexting, the act of sharing sexually explicit texts or images. This act violates federal law and may result in criminal charges for child pornography.

What Is Sexting?

“Sexting” is a term that refers to the sending of sexually explicit electronic or digital messages or visual images through texts, emails, instant messaging, and social media chats. Sexting may involve explicit text, as well as nude or semi-nude images, through digital and/or video formats like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Not all state laws officially define sexting, but it is generally described as the act of digitally sending or sharing sexually explicit texts and/or images that may include nude or semi-nude images and sexual acts. Sexting that is done by and between consenting adults over the age of 21, involving only adult images, is legal in most states. However, sexting involving minors is prohibited under federal law and considered a crime of child pornography, a serious felony offense.

Minnesota Sexting Laws Involving Minors

Minnesota does not have a specific sexting law that addresses sexting between minors. Under Minnesota laws, any person (adult or minor) who creates, possesses, or shares a visual image depicting “sexual conduct” involving a minor can be prosecuted for child pornography.

  • Creation of Child Pornography – If convicted, a first offense carries a fine up to $20,000 and a prison sentence up to 10 years.
  • Possession of Child Pornography – If convicted, a first offense carries a fine up to $5,000 and a prison sentence up to 5 years.
  • Sharing of Child Pornography – If convicted, a first offense carries a fine up to $10,000 and a prison sentence up to 7 years.

While some state laws only prohibit creating, possessing, or sharing images of another person, Minnesota child pornography laws prohibit creating, possessing, or sharing of a sexual image of any minor, including oneself. In Minnesota, a teenage girl who sexts a nude selfie to her boyfriend can be prosecuted for sharing child pornography, and her boyfriend can be prosecuted for possession.

In Minnesota, minors who engage in sexting can face criminal charges for child pornography, as well as mandatory sex offender registration and harsh felony penalties. A felony arrest for child pornography in Minnesota requires prompt attention by an experienced lawyer that can provide criminal defense.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

One of the questions people facing a criminal charge ask is: How long does a criminal case take? The timeline of your criminal case in Minnesota will depend on the nature and severity of the alleged crime, the speed of the criminal justice system, the duration of the trial, and whether an appeal will be necessary. Delays at any stage of the criminal justice process may impact how long your criminal case will last. Generally, however, misdemeanor cases may resolve within weeks or months, while felony cases may linger in courts for up to a year.
People accused, arrested, or charged with a crime often ask, “How much does a criminal defense lawyer cost in Minneapolis, MN?” It is difficult to accurately determine how much a criminal defense lawyer will cost. The reason is that numerous factors impact the cost of legal representation in criminal matters. These factors include the type and severity of criminal charges, the lawyer’s experience and reputation, required time and effort, and geographical location.
Confidential informants may provide integral information to help build criminal investigations, but how reliable is that information when they are receiving payment for their services? To protect them, state law requires the identity of informants be kept confidential. For those facing criminal charges, however, this creates challenges in questioning the accuracy and validity of the information given at trial.