Sexting: A Serious Criminal Offense in North Carolina

When the teenage practice of “sexting” first became popular—perhaps five years ago—most adults didn’t know anything about it. It took the majority of a year before news articles began reporting the trend.

Adults were shocked.

But then, that was always the point. Some studies estimate that about 20 percent of teens engage in sexting, the practice of using cell phones to send nude or sexually explicit pictures and videos of one’s body via text message. Teens were early to adopt texting in the United States, and shocking adult sensibilities and defying adult notions of appropriate behavior was always part of the allure of sexting.

Unfortunately, many of those teens don’t realize that what they are doing is against the law. They could be prosecuted under law as adult sex criminals and receive punishments with lifelong implications.

Sexting as a sex crime

Because most of the participants in sexting are underage, laws against child pornography apply. Any teen who takes a sexually explicit picture or video of himself or herself (or of a friend of the same age) could be charged with creating child pornography. Anyone who sends, forwards, or even receives that picture could be arrested for disseminating child pornography. A zealous prosecutor might choose to press charges for first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class-C felony in North Carolina, or sexual exploitation of children, a federal felony with a minimum penalty of 15 years in prison.

It makes no difference that a teenager may be accused of violating a law that was written to protect teens. The law doesn’t take the age of the offender into account, and people as young as 16 are regularly prosecuted as adults in North Carolina courts. In addition to prison terms, a teenager convicted of trafficking in child pornography due to a sexting incident would have to register as a sex offender for a period of at least ten years—and possibly for the rest of his or her life.

Don't risk your future. If you are being investigated or charged with a sex crime in North Carolia, call an experienced criminal defense attorney now.

Whether you are an adult or a teenager, if you are accused of a child pornography crime due to a sexting incident, it is essential that you hire a skilled North Carolina defense attorney to fight the charge and guard your rights.

Contact the Speaks Law Firm in Wilmington at 910-341-7570 (locally) or toll-free at 877-593-4233. Our state and federal sex crime attorneys will thoroughly review all the evidence against you and spot any holes in the prosecution’s case. We will work zealously to get charges dismissed or bargained down, in order to secure you the best available outcome for your case.

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