What Do California Laws Say About Sexting?

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.

Want to learn more about how sexting laws are applied in California? Call (909) 726-7112, or contact our Rancho Cucamonga team of sex crimes attorneys today. We are here to help with your legal needs.


Ready to get started?

Tell us about your case by filling out the form below. We will reach out to you to schedule your free consultation.

    • Please enter your name.
    • This isn't a valid phone number.
      Please enter your phone number.
    • This isn't a valid email address.
      Please enter your email address.
    • Please make a selection.
    • Please enter a message.