Have you been charged or accused of sexting in Texas?
In some situations, sexting can be done between consensual adults, where both parties agree to the conversation and do not feel forced into it. However, there are situations where sexting is illegal, especially when it involves a person under the age of 18. If you have been charged with or accused of sexting, contact the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak. Our attorney that handles sexting defense cases will provide you with support and guidance in minimizing the impact this can have on your future.
What is sexting?
Sexting is not in itself illegal. The key to remember here is that when this type of engagement involves children under the age of 18, there is no level of consent. Sexting becomes illegal when someone over the age of 18 provides any type of sexually oriented material to a person under the age of 18. This is a serious crime in the state of Texas.
By working with a sexting defense attorney in Houston, you are able to get comprehensive support if you are facing any claims of sexting in an illegal manner.
Texas Laws on Sexting
There are several laws in the state regarding sexting.
Under Texas Penal Code §43.261, the law defines and makes it illegal to engage in any type of electronic transmission of materials depicting a minor, which is anyone under the age of 17. Sending this type of content is considered a crime when it is intentionally sent, including:
- Sending visual material to anyone that depicts a minor engaging in sexual conduct, no matter who produced the material (including the minor)
- Possessing material like this in which a minor is engaging in sexual conduct
In this situation, there is some protection for teens who send this type of minor if they are not more than two years older or younger than the sender. There are some situations in which there are protections when there two people are engaged in a relationship.
Under Texas Penal Code §43.26, sexting is considered a crime whenever it involves minors and sexual images of any type. Promoting or possessing this material is considered child pornography when it is knowingly or intentionally possessed. This occurs when there is an intent to view:
- The material is from a child that is under the age of 18
- Minors were engaged in consensual or forced sexual conduct
Note that in 43.261, the law focuses specifically on the actions of teenagers in spreading these images. However, in 43.26, there is no limit on age and no age-related defenses.
What are the penalties for Sexting Charges in Texas?
The penalties for convictions of sexting will range based on individual circumstances. However, both laws have very specific and high-risk penalties.
In 43.261, the charges are typically a Class C misdemeanor. This often comes with a fine of $500. In situations where there are enhanced charges, that often means that the material was taken in some way to cause additional harm, such as to abuse or embarrass someone. That can elevate the claim to a Class B misdemeanor. In these situations, a person can receive up to 180 days in jail as well as pay fines of $2,000 or more. In situations where circumstances are more severe, this can lead to the charges being elevated to a Class A misdemeanor, which charges jail time of up to a year.
For those who are in violation of 43.26, the charges are more severe, and that often means more significant penalties. This can be elevated to a felony charge. In the case of a first offense, it may be considered a third degree felony – and that could mean 2 to 10 years in prison and fines of $10,000.
In situations where this is a second offense, the charges could be elevated to a second degree felony, which could lead to 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of $10,000. It is possible for these charges to reach a first degree felony level. At that point, it can warrant prison sentences of 5 to 99 years.
Top Questions About Sexting Laws in Texas
What type of defense can I have against sexting charges?
Your attorney will work closely with you to determine what type of sexting charge defenses may apply in your case. That could include proving that the minor was not more than two years different in age or that the individuals did not produce illicit content.
What could happen with a conviction of sexting?
In Texas, you could face jail time and fines. In addition to this, you may have trouble finding rental housing, you may find employment limitations, and you may lose the right to vote or own a firearm. These charges are serious with long-term implications.
How can the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak help with Sexting Charges?
Those charged with or accused of sexting should seek out well-qualified legal support and guidance. Doing so will help to minimize the risks against your rights in these types of cases. With the help of a sexting defense attorney, it is possible to gain insight into all of your rights and protections.
At the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak, we work with our clients to provide comprehensive legal support and guidance. That includes providing you with a comprehensive legal defense. We will help you in numerous ways:
- Explain the charges to you and the implications of those charges should they lead to a conviction
- Work to get the charges dropped or lowered whenever possible to do so
- Help you to create a legal defense that protects your rights.
- Guide you in creating a plan for managing your legal situation – or that of your minor children
- Support you in a court of law
Our goal is always to minimize the legal impact, but sexting charges are severe even when they happen between minors. For that reason, we highly encourage you to reach out to our experienced defense attorney in Texas for immediate help.
Contact the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak for Immediate Help
If you are charged with or accused of these crimes, contact our team for immediate help. The Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak is here to help you. Our highly-rated defense attorney is committed to working closely to protect your rights. We offer 24/7 immediate help. Contact us now for a free consultation.