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Is sexting illegal?

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2023 | Firm News

Sexting involves creating and texting or messaging of sexual content or images. This activity may constitute sexual offenses in some circumstances under Indiana’s sexting laws.            


Under Indiana law, it is illegal for teenagers to create an image depicting a person under 18 engaging in a sexual act. Sexting between a person under 18 and an adult is also illegal. Possessing obscene videos or images of a child under 16 engaged in a sexual act is another criminal offense.

Under Indiana law, it is not illegal for a person, once they reach 16, to have sexual relations with an adult. But the creation, possession and distribution of child pornography is a federal and state crime. A photograph depicting a minor under 18 engaged in a sexual act is child pornography.

Texting offenses may be prosecuted as a felony or class A misdemeanor in Indiana. A person commits a class misdemeanor if they transmit an image or communication through social media or other communication device that depicts or describes the sexual conduct of a child who is at least 12 and who the transmitter knows is under 16. The communication must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific worth. This offense is punishable by up to one year of imprisonment or a $5,000 fine.

If the minor is under 12, the sexting was nonconsensual or the minors involved have an age difference of over five years, the offense is a felony. Habitual offenders face a mandatory extra imprisonment of two to six years for felony offenses. Teenagers may have to register with Indiana’s sex offender registry for felony convictions.

Romeo and Juliet defense

This young adult relationship defense applies if the individuals receiving and transmitting the sexually explicit material are close in age. It does not cover individuals over 22.

Child pornography

This offense may be the possession and distribution of child pornography if the receiver shares a sexually explicit depiction of a child with somebody outside the relationship or posts this image on the internet.

Prosecutors can also charge individuals with other crimes. These may include the dissemination of harmful material to minors, exploitation of children, solicitation or child pornography.

A prosecution for a sexual offense can have life-altering consequences. Attorneys can help assure that your rights are protected.