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.