Sexting is the exchange of nude or sexually explicit photos via cell phone. Although some states have laws that specifically target sexting for teenagers, California does not. This is because proposed bills that provide reduced consequences for sexting minors have failed to pass in the state. This has had a significant impact on 18 and 19 years old teenagers who have sexted with a person that is 17 or under. In California, a young adult can be prosecuted under child pornography and exploitation laws. The following criminal laws can be applied to a sexting case in the state of California.
Possession or Control of Matter Depicting a Minor Engaged in Sexual Conduct
An adult who possesses or controls material depicting a minor engaging in or simulating sexual conduct, can be charged with a felony that is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a $2,500 fine, or both. Sexual conduct includes showing the genital, pubic, or rectal areas. Prior convictions for this can result in an extended prison sentence that ranges from 2 to 6 years.
Sexual Exploitation of a Child
An adult who develops, duplicates, prints, or exchanges material that shows a minor engaging in or simulating sexual conduct, can be found guilty for the sexual exploitation of a child. This conviction carries a sentence of 1 year in prison and a $2,000 fine, or both.
Harmful Matter Sent with the Intent to Seduce a Minor
Sending, distributing, exhibiting, or offering to send harmful matter to a minor, with the intent to sexually gratify, appeal, or seduce, is a crime in the state of California. Matter that depicts or describes sexual conduct in an offensive way can be considered harmful to a minor. However, the matter in question must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
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