Are you wondering, Is sex texting a crime in Minneapolis and Minnesota? There is nothing inherently illegal about “sexting” when it occurs between two consenting adults. That does not mean the sharing of explicit messages or images via text message will never result in legal jeopardy. While willfully sharing a sexually explicit image with a willing adult recipient is not a criminal offense, these images can result in a variety of legal complications if sent to the wrong target.
Additionally, images that were initially shared with consent could be the basis of a criminal act if they are later publicized or used to extort the sender. From revenge porn to coercion, there are steep criminal penalties that are associated with these offenses.
If you are facing a criminal investigation or arrest related to sexting, it is vital that you speak with a sex crimes charges defense lawyer away. Often, these charges are based on a misunderstanding. With the right attorney by your side, you might be able to avoid criminal charges entirely. Call the attorneys of Gerald Miller today to get started.
Is Sex Texting a Crime in Minneapolis and Minnesota?
The definition of sexting is not complex. According to Merriam-Webster, sexting is the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone. The fact that this term has only been present in the dictionary since 2012 shows that sexting remains a fairly recent phenomenon. These communications could occur over a messenger app, via e-mail, or through text messages.
Sexting has grown in popularity in the years since the advent of the smart phone. Today, a substantial number of adults and even minors engage in some form of sexting. A 2016 study in the journal Sex Health studied nearly six thousand adults aged from 21 to 75 years old. Of those subjects, more than 20 percent of them reported sending at least one sexually explicit text message at some point in their life. Nearly 30 percent reported receiving a sexually explicit message. But is sex texting a crime?
When Is Sexting Illegal in Minnesota?
Sexting becomes illegal when it involves the transmission of sexual images or messages to a minor. The specific criminal charge will depend on which party sent the message. Any sexual communication between adults and children under the age of 15 could have steep consequences.
There is a stigma related to this type of offense that leads some people to assume anyone that has been accused of texting with a minor is guilty. The fact remains that every person accused of misconduct is entitled to a defense. The attorneys of Gerald Miller know the toll that these accusations can take. We are prepared to stand by your side and serve as your advocate during this difficult time.
It is illegal in most situations for an adult to receive sexual images or messages from a child. However, the state must establish that the adult solicited the message from the child in order to be guilty of a crime. Solicitation means commanding, entreating, or attempting to persuade a minor to engage in sexual conversations or to send explicit images to the adult. Electronic solicitation of children is a criminal offense in Minnesota. It is governed by Minnesota Statute Section 609.352. According to the statute, there are three different ways the prosecution could make a case for electronic solicitation of a child. They involve doing any of the following acts with the intent to arouse sexual desire:
- soliciting a child or someone the person reasonably believes is a child to engage in sexual conduct;
- engaging in communication with a child or someone the person reasonably believes is a child, relating to or describing sexual conduct; or
- distributing any material, language, or communication, including a photographic or video image, that relates to or describes sexual conduct to a child or someone the person reasonably believes is a child.
In addition to state offenses, there could also be federal charges related to the solicitation of a minor through text messaging. If you’re no longer wondering is sex texting a crime, you could benefit from a discussion with the attorneys of Gerald Miller about your situation.
The possession of images or video depicting children under the age of 15 nude or engaging in sex acts is a form of child pornography. This is true even if the images were offered willingly by way of text message. Child pornography charges are some of the most serious offenses that could be related to sexting with a minor.
Child pornography charges are serious felonies that could result in years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. What’s more, a conviction could lead a lifetime on the sex offender registry as well as a variety of other consequences.
Sexting and Revenge Porn
While it is true that sexting between two consenting adults is not against the laws of Minnesota, there are a number of different ways that these images could eventually be used in criminal activity. Most of the time, these images, videos, and messages will not simply disappear. As the relationship between the people sexting each other sours, the presence of these photos and messages could be problematic. This is an instance where asking is sex texting a crime has two different answers depending on how how the images are used.
Revenge porn is one common way that sexting could spiral into a criminal act. Revenge porn is the informal term for the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images. This behavior is illegal under Minnesota law. The statute related to revenge porn is found at Minnesota Statute Section 617.261. To secure a conviction, the state must prove:
- the victim is identifiable:
- from the image itself, by the person depicted in the image or by another person; or
- from personal information displayed in connection with the image;
- the actor knows or reasonably should know that the person depicted in the image does not consent to the dissemination; and
- the image was obtained or created under circumstances in which the actor knew or reasonably should have known the person depicted had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The state’s revenge porn statute survived a challenge in the supreme court in 2021. The court ultimately rejected the argument that the defendant had a first amendment right to disseminate explicit video of another person without their consent. The Supreme Court ruled that the state has the right to penalize this type of speech as long as the law is narrowly tailored to only restrain speech when a citizen’s safety is at risk.
Extortion and Coercion
Another way that sexting could shift into illegal activity is when the images or messages obtained from another person are used to coerce or extort them. Often referred to informally as “sextortion,” this act typically involves a threat that the image will be released to the public if the sender does not meet certain demands.
These demands can vary. Some instances involve extortion for money. In exchange for a promise not to send publicize the media, the person depicted in the photo might pay money demanded from the extorting party. In other cases, it could involve some form of coercion. It is not unusual for a person to attempt to coerce the individual in the images into a sexual encounter in exchange for not publicizing the images.
Minnesota law bars any form of extortion or coercion. This law, found at Minnesota Statute Section 609.27, makes it illegal to demand something of another person while using a threat to expose a secret or deformity, publish a defamatory statement, or otherwise to expose any person to disgrace or ridicule. This offense carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of no more than $20,000.
Discuss Your Charges with a Sex Crimes Charges Defense Lawyer
In the end, there is no law that prevents two consenting adults from engaging in sex texting in Minnesota. While it is true that what these adults do consensually is not a crime, the exchange of explicit images and videos might lead to criminal conduct.
If you’re wondering is sex texting a crime in Minneapolis, it is if there is coercion, extortion, solicitation, or minor children are involved. The solicitation, dissemination, or possession of images or video depicting children engaging in sexual activity carries some of the steepest criminal penalties under state law.
If you have been accused of wrongdoing related to sexting, you deserve the support and guidance of experienced legal counsel. The attorneys of Gerald Miller could explain your legal options and help you understand whether you face legal jeopardy related to sexting. Call us right away to schedule your free initial consultation.