What are the Consequences of Revenge Porn & Sexting?

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Help! My Teenager was caught Sexting. What are the Consequences?

Sexting is sending sexually explicit messages and photographs back and forth from an electronic device such as a cell phone or tablet. Texas used to have very harsh penalties for sexting. Prior to 2011, sexting between minors was considered promoting child pornography when explicit pictures were sent back and forth. This was a felony offense, and could result in years in prison.

Sexting Legislation in Texas

In 2011, Texas passed Senate Bill 407 making sending sexually explicit messages containing images of minors a misdemeanor rather than a felony. A first offense is considered a Class-C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine up to $500.00. A second offense is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.00. If sexually explicit messages were sent with the intent to harass, abuse, embarrass or harm another, a first offense is punishable as a Class B misdemeanor. If someone forwards sexually explicit messages on to others, they can also be charged with a Class-B misdemeanor.

Minors under seventeen may not be prosecuted for sexting if the images were only of the recipient or the sender; the two minors were in a dating relationship; and they were within two years of age of each other, even if one of them was over eighteen years old. In order to stress how dangerous and harmful sexting can be, the courts require parents to appear in court with their children on sexting charges. The court can order teens to complete an educational program about the dangers of sexting, and can also order that the parents attend these courses with their child.

What is Revenge Porn?

Another issue with today’s technology and the easy access to the internet is “revenge porn.” Cell phones and other electronic devices have the capability to record high definition, high quality video, and many people use this technology to record having sex with a partner. Now, when the relationship is going well, this might not seem like a bad idea, and in fact, they might even think it adds some excitement to the relationship. Most of the time, the parties intend that the video stay private. But, trouble often starts when a relationship ends.

If one party has a sexually explicit video and feels spiteful, there are hundreds of website where he or she can upload the video for the world to see. The Relationship Privacy act went into effect on September 1, 2015. This law made the unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material a Class A misdemeanor. A person commits an offense under this law if they post material depicting another person either unclothed, or engaged in sexual activity. The material must have been created under circumstances where the depicted person had a reasonable expectation that the material would remain private. The disclosure must also cause harm to the person depicted, and must reveal the person’s identity, though the disclosure of the identity may be done either directly, or subsequently by a third party identifying and disclosing the identity.

Could I be financially responsible?

Not only did the legislature make revenge porn punishable as a crime, it also created a civil cause of action. This means that a victim of revenge porn can sue the person who posted the video on top of that person being held criminal responsible for their behavior.

Contact an Attorney

Cell phone and the internet have no doubt advanced humanity greatly in the last twenty years. This technology doesn’t come without problems and dangers. If you or your teen has been accused of sexting, have been charged with posting revenge porn or are the victim of revenge porn, the criminal defense and civil litigation attorneys of the Brandy Austin Law Firm can help you. Please call us at 817-841-9906 or fill out our contact form as soon as the issue arises so that we can begin working aggressively to help you.

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