Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

Can sexting lead to child pornography charges in Texas?

The recent scandal in Colorado, where students at a high school were discovered to have sent and received hundreds of nude photos of themselves via smartphones, has probably caused many parents in Texas to worry. With the proliferation of cell phones and the lack of judgment that goes with being a teenager, "sexting" by minors has become a national phenomenon.

Sexting can have serious legal consequences. If the photo depicts a minor, any adult sending or receiving it can be charged with distribution or possession of child pornography.

But if the sender or recipient is a minor, Texas law is less harsh. A first-time sexting offense by a person under the age of 18 is ordinarily a Class C misdemeanor.If the sexting was done for purposes of harassing or bullying, it can be charged as a Class B misdemeanor. Under Texas law, the parent of a minor charged with sexting is required to appear in court with the minor. If the judge determines the minor is guilty of sexting, the judge canrequire the minor to attend an educational program and make his or her parents pay for it.

In some cases the statute provides a complete defense to sexting charges for minors. Minors cannot be charged with sexting in Texas if the pictures were only of the person charged and another minor; the two parties were in a dating relationship and the two parties were not more than two years apart in age.

Any young person facing a sex crime charge needs to fully understand their rights under the law. An experienced Houston sexting defense attorney can help minors and their parents throughout the process.

Source: statutes.legis.tx.us, "Tex. Penal Code § 43.261," accessed Nov. 15, 2015