Sexting Laws

There are 3 main Federal Laws that you need to know.

Information has been provided to us by our partner, the FBI.

18 U.S. Code § 2422. Coercion and enticement

(a) Whoever knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual to travel in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or Possession of the United States, to engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

(b) Whoever, using the mail or any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce, or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years, to engage in prostitution or any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 10 years or for life.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 812; Pub. L. 99–628, § 5(b)(1), Nov. 7, 1986, 100 Stat. 3511; Pub. L. 100–690, title VII, § 7070, Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4405; Pub. L. 104–104, title V, § 508, Feb. 8, 1996, 110 Stat. 137; Pub. L. 105–314, title I, § 102, Oct. 30, 1998, 112 Stat. 2975; Pub. L. 108–21, title I, § 103(a)(2)(A), (B), (b)(2)(A), Apr. 30, 2003, 117 Stat. 652, 653; Pub. L. 109–248, title II, § 203, July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 613.)

Read Online

 

18 U.S.C. § 2252 - U.S. Code - Unannotated Title 18. Crimes and Criminal Procedure § 2252. Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors

(a)  Any person who--

(1)  knowingly transports or ships using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce by any means including by computer or mails, any visual depiction, if--

(A)  the producing of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;  and

(B)  such visual depiction is of such conduct;

(2)  knowingly receives, or distributes, any visual depiction using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or that has been mailed, or has been shipped or transported in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or which contains materials which have been mailed or so shipped or transported, by any means including by computer, or knowingly reproduces any visual depiction for distribution using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or through the mails, if--

(A)  the producing of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;  and

(B)  such visual depiction is of such conduct;

(3)  either--

(A)  in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or on any land or building owned by, leased to, or otherwise used by or under the control of the Government of the United States, or in the Indian country as defined in section 1151 of this title, knowingly sells or possesses with intent to sell any visual depiction;  or

(B)  knowingly sells or possesses with intent to sell any visual depiction that has been mailed, shipped, or transported using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce, or has been shipped or transported in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or which was produced using materials which have been mailed or so shipped or transported using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including by computer, if--

(i)  the producing of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;  and

(ii)  such visual depiction is of such conduct;  or

(4)  either--

(A)  in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or on any land or building owned by, leased to, or otherwise used by or under the control of the Government of the United States, or in the Indian country as defined in section 1151 of this title, knowingly possesses, or knowingly accesses with intent to view, 1 or more books, magazines, periodicals, films, video tapes, or other matter which contain any visual depiction;  or

(B)  knowingly possesses, or knowingly accesses with intent to view, 1 or more books, magazines, periodicals, films, video tapes, or other matter which contain any visual depiction that has been mailed, or has been shipped or transported using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or which was produced using materials which have been mailed or so shipped or transported, by any means including by computer, if--

(i)  the producing of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;  and

(ii)  such visual depiction is of such conduct;

shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b)(1)  Whoever violates, or attempts or conspires to violate, paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of subsection (a) shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years, but if such person has a prior conviction under this chapter, section 1591 , chapter 71, chapter 109A, or chapter 117, or under section 920 of title 10 ( article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice ), or under the laws of any State relating to aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual conduct involving a minor or ward, or the production, possession, receipt, mailing, sale, distribution, shipment, or transportation of child pornography, or sex trafficking of children, such person shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for not less than 15 years nor more than 40 years.

(2)  Whoever violates, or attempts or conspires to violate, paragraph (4) of subsection (a) shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both, but if any visual depiction involved in the offense involved a prepubescent minor or a minor who had not attained 12 years of age, such person shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or if such person has a prior conviction under this chapter, chapter 71, chapter 109A, or chapter 117, or under section 920 of Title 10 ( article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice ), or under the laws of any State relating to aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual conduct involving a minor or ward, or the production, possession, receipt, mailing, sale, distribution, shipment, or transportation of child pornography, such person shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for not less than 10 years nor more than 20 years.

(c) Affirmative defense. --It shall be an affirmative defense to a charge of violating paragraph (4) of subsection (a) that the defendant--

(1)  possessed less than three matters containing any visual depiction proscribed by that paragraph;  and

(2)  promptly and in good faith, and without retaining or allowing any person, other than a law enforcement agency, to access any visual depiction or copy thereof--

(A)  took reasonable steps to destroy each such visual depiction;  or

(B)  reported the matter to a law enforcement agency and afforded that agency access to each such visual depiction.

Read Online

 

18 U.S. Code § 1591. Sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud, or coercion

(a) Whoever knowingly—

(1) in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, obtains, advertises, maintains, patronizes, or solicits by any means a person; or

(2) benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture which has engaged in an act described in violation of paragraph (1),

knowing, or, except where the act constituting the violation of paragraph (1) is advertising, in reckless disregard of the fact, that means of force, threats of force, fraud, coercion described in subsection (e)(2), or any combination of such means will be used to cause the person to engage in a commercial sex act, or that the person has not attained the age of 18 years and will be caused to engage in a commercial sex act, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).

(b) The punishment for an offense under subsection (a) is—

(1) if the offense was effected by means of force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion described in subsection (e)(2), or by any combination of such means, or if the person recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, advertised, patronized, or solicited had not attained the age of 14 years at the time of such offense, by a fine under this title and imprisonment for any term of years not less than 15 or for life; or

(2) if the offense was not so effected, and the person recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, advertised, patronized, or solicited had attained the age of 14 years but had not attained the age of 18 years at the time of such offense, by a fine under this title and imprisonment for not less than 10 years or for life.

(c) In a prosecution under subsection (a)(1) in which the defendant had a reasonable opportunity to observe the person so recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, maintained, patronized, or solicited, the Government need not prove that the defendant knew, or recklessly disregarded the fact, that the person had not attained the age of 18 years.

(d) Whoever obstructs, attempts to obstruct, or in any way interferes with or prevents the enforcement of this section, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for a term not to exceed 25 years, or both.

(e) In this section:

(1)The term “abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process” means the use or threatened use of a law or legal process, whether administrative, civil, or criminal, in any manner or for any purpose for which the law was not designed, in order to exert pressure on another person to cause that person to take some action or refrain from taking some action.

(2) The term “coercion” means—

(A) threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person;

(B) any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or

(C) the abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process.

(3) The term “commercial sex act” means any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.

(4) The term “participation in a venture” means knowingly assisting, supporting, or facilitating a violation of subsection (a)(1).

(5) The term “serious harm” means any harm, whether physical or nonphysical, including psychological, financial, or reputational harm, that is sufficiently serious, under all the surrounding circumstances, to compel a reasonable person of the same background and in the same circumstances to perform or to continue performing commercial sexual activity in order to avoid incurring that harm.

(6) The term “venture” means any group of two or more individuals associated in fact, whether or not a legal entity.

(Added Pub. L. 106–386, div. A, § 112(a)(2), Oct. 28, 2000, 114 Stat. 1487; amended Pub. L. 108–21, title I, § 103(a)(3), Apr. 30, 2003, 117 Stat. 653; Pub. L. 108–193, § 5(a), Dec. 19, 2003, 117 Stat. 2879; Pub. L. 109–248, title II, § 208, July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 615; Pub. L. 110–457, title II, § 222(b)(5), Dec. 23, 2008, 122 Stat. 5069; Pub. L. 114–22, title I, §§ 108(a), 118(b), May 29, 2015, 129 Stat. 238, 247; Pub. L. 115–164, § 5, Apr. 11, 2018, 132 Stat. 1255; Pub. L. 115–392, § 11(1)(C), Dec. 21, 2018, 132 Stat. 5255.)

Read Online

 

State Sexting Laws

Unfortunately, each state in the U.S. is different when it comes to sexting laws.

Click HERE to see each U.S. state and what laws they have regarding sexting. 

State Sexting Laws may or may not include the folowing: 

Glossary: 

“Addresses minors sending or receiving” – includes provisions if youth under 18 have sent or received sexually explicit images of other youth under 18;

“Diversion” – includes an option to pursue the case outside of the criminal/juvenile justice system; “Informal” – allows for/prescribes counseling or another informal sanction;

“Misdem” – potential for a misdemeanor punishment;

“Felony” – potential for a felony punishment. All states have some variation of a law that prohibits sending explicit or obscene material to—or depicting—minors that might apply (child pornography).