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Is it Illegal for Minors to “Sext” in Utah?

 Posted on April 04, 2024 in Sex crimes

Salt Lake City, UT sex crimes defense lawyerThe act of sending sexual texts is referred to as “sexting.” Sexting can include sexual photos, videos, and messages, which are usually sent between cell phones. While the act may seem harmless, it can be dangerous when a minor engages in such activity.

Most teenagers do not understand the ramifications of sending someone a nude picture of themselves. While a teenager may “sext” to flirt with another person, state law punishes offenders for such actions, including minors. 

If your child has engaged in “sexting,” our Salt Lake City sex crimes attorneys would like to discuss the legal implications and defenses that may be available.

Utah Law Against “Sexting”

While sexting between two adults is not illegal, when juveniles send each other nude pictures, it can fall under the category of child pornography. Under Utah Code §76-10-1206, an individual is guilty of child pornography if dealing or offering to distribute materials that are deemed harmful to a child. Texting explicit messages or sending erotic photos and videos could also count. 

Penalties for An Adult Guilty of “Sexting”

An adult who is found “sexting” with a minor could face the following penalties:

  • Up to 15 years in jail

  • Minimum fine of $1,000, up to $10,000 

  • Registration on the sex offender registry

Penalties for a Minor Guilty of “Sexting”

A minor who is found “sexting” could face the following penalties:

  • A teenager that is 16 or 17 years of age can be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor

  • A teenager that is under the age of 16 can be found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor

Anyone convicted of a Class A misdemeanor may be sentenced to a maximum of 364 days in jail and fined up to $2,500. A Class B misdemeanor comes with less severe penalties, with a maximum of six months in prison and $1,000 in fines or community service in lieu of fines.

Defenses to a Juvenile “Sexting” Charge

If your child is facing “sexting” allegations, you need a Davis County sex crimes attorney who has years of experience developing defense strategies specific to each case. 

Based on the circumstances surrounding your child’s “sexting” charges, the following defenses may be available:

The Messages Were Obtained by an Illegal Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment protects all American citizens from illegal searches and seizures. In most cases, to search a person’s belongings, law enforcement must have a search warrant. However, there are exceptions to this requirement, including the fact that if there is an immediate danger of evidence being destroyed, warrantless searches are not usually permitted. Evidence that is obtained through a warrantless search is often inadmissible.

Your Child Was Not Read Miranda Rights

If your child is questioned under police custody, the officer must read your child his or her Miranda rights. If the police officer forgets to read these rights, any testimony your child gives will likely be unusable.

The Photos Are Not Sexually Explicit as Defined by Law

Sometimes, it is not clear if a photo is sexually explicit. If the photo is questionable, a sex crimes attorney will complete a thorough investigation to determine if a “sexting” charge is applicable to your child’s situation.

Contact a Salt Lake City, UT Sex Crimes Attorney Today

A conviction for a sex crime will cause your child to have a criminal record, substantially affecting his future prospects. If your child has been charged with “sexting” or any sex crime, our Davis County, UT, sex crimes attorneys are ready to help. To get started, contact the Collins Rupp, P.C. online or by calling 385-777-2753 to schedule your free consultation.

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