Can You Get Arrested for Sexting?

With the rapidly increasing world of technology and information, you are probably well aware of the many uses such devices and instant sharing are put to.  One of which is “sexting,” a practice so prevalent among teenagers the Illinois legislature made it illegal and likened it to transmitting child pornography in 2010 by adding sexting to Illinois Statute 720 ILCS 5/11-20.1.

Sexting Defined

Sexting is sending naked, or partially naked photos with a cell phone or other electronic device.  It could be fun and exciting among couples and rarely have any consequences.  For adults, it may lead to embarrassment if a nude photo is shared with someone other than the intended recipient.  These are not the dangers the law seeks to avoid.  For teens, it could lead to widespread harassment and humiliation among classmates and the world via sites like Facebook and MySpace.  Far worse are the images being trafficked by pedophiles of young boys and girls.  The law protects children from these harms by making it illegal.

For example, the Quad-City Times reported last week that police in Moline recently let a group of teenagers off the hook with a naive claim that they likely didn’t know better.  Such ignorance on either the police’s part or the perpetrators part could result in harsh consequences if they don’t know the law.

Sexting Laws in Illinois

This law makes it illegal to sext pictures of minors, including self-portraits.  If the person sharing the photos is also a minor, a new change to the law makes it a misdemeanor. What this does is spare a young teen from being dubbed a sex offender who would have to register on a sex offender database indefinitely.  This type of label can be haunting and cause a great deal of hardship in finding a job and even finding a home.  Instead, a teen can face a juvenile court and receive punishment like counseling or community service.

The stakes get even higher if you are over the age of 18.  If an adult transmits a sext message of a minor, the law defines this act as distributing child pornography, which is a Class 1 felony punishable by a fine ranging from $1500 to $100,000, imprisonment, and sex offender registration requirements.  If that wasn’t bad enough, if someone fails to register after being convicted of this crime, that violation is considered another felony.

It may seem unfair, but it is the law.  Sexting is illegal whether you are a kid or an adult.  You or someone you know may not be so lucky as those kids in Moline who were able to avoid embarrassing charges that would forever brand them as a sex offender.  What may seem innocent and harmless is considered a crime.  An experienced Illinois sex crimes attorney can help you understand the law if you are unsure and should be the first person you call should you ever find yourself or a loved one being accused of this crime.

Steven Goldman

Practice Areas

Our Blog