Michigan Sexting Defense Attorney

Michigan Sexting Defense Attorney

The rise of smartphones with high-resolution cameras coupled with SMS technology has created a situation that has allowed people to share photos more easily than ever before. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many people use these functionalities to send sexually suggestive or explicit material to current or potential romantic partners – commonly referred to as “sexting.” Unfortunately, in some cases, sexting can result in significant criminal liability and may even land you on the sex offender registry.

If you have been accused of violating the law as a result of sexting, it is critical that you retain legal counsel as soon as you can. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can defend your rights and make sure that your case is resolved as favorably as possible. To schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney, contact the Law Office of John Freeman today.

Is Sexting Illegal?

No, sexting itself is not against Michigan law. What is illegal, however, is creating, possessing, or distributing child pornography – and sexual photographs of someone under 18 are considered child porn (or child sexually abusive material). This is despite the fact that the age of consent in Michigan is 16. What this means is that while two 17-year-olds can have sex with one another, sending nude photos of themselves can result in significant criminal penalties under state and federal law.

Another way that sexting can result in criminal liability is if a person engages in “sextortion.” Under 750.145e(1) of Michigan’s penal code, it is illegal to disseminate any sexual visual material of another person intentionally and with the intent to threaten, coerce, or intimidate if the following conditions apply:

  • The person in the material is over 18.
  • Is identifiable (this does not apply if the information is provided by someone other than the person disseminating the material).
  • The person who has the sexually explicit material obtained it under circumstances in which a reasonable person would know or understand that it should remain private.
  • The person knows or reasonably should know that the other person did not consent to the dissemination of the material.

What are the Consequences of Sexting?

Under Michigan law, a person who persuades, induces, entices, or knowingly allows a person under 18 to sext could face up to 20 years in prison, a fine of $100,000, or both. The same is true for people who create child pornography themselves. So, if a 16-year-old asked his girlfriend for a nude photo, they could both face serious legal consequences. What’s more, if they kept the photo, they could face four years and a fine of $10,000 for possession on top of the above-listed penalties. Importantly, it is illegal to create child pornography even if it is of yourself, so a person under 18 who took a nude selfie could face felony charges even if he or she did not send it to anyone.

In some cases, a person convicted of crimes related to sexting could also end up on the sex offender registry in addition to the fines and incarceration they face. The sex offender registry is a public, searchable database of people who have been convicted of sex crimes, and being on it can change your life forever.

If you are on the sex offender registry, it can make it difficult to get a job and can result in restrictions on where you live. In fact, it can damage your reputation to the extent that you are socially ostracized by others and isolated from your community.

These penalties can be life-changing, and it is important to stress that many teens do not even know that sending sexually explicit messages is against the law. As a result, it is critical for parents and other adults in positions of trust to educate teens and let them know how serious sexting can be. In addition, if parents find sexually explicit material on their child’s phone or computer, their first call should be to an attorney and not their child’s school or other parents.

Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Michigan

If you have been charged with a crime related to sending sexually explicit text messages, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced attorney as soon as you can. Michigan criminal defense lawyer John Freeman is a former federal prosecutor who has the experience and knowledge to defend you against serious allegations. To schedule a free consultation with Mr. Freeman to evaluate your options, call our office today or contact us online.