Is it Legal For Minors Be Naked on Facetime, Skype, or Other Video Conferencing Platforms?
Last Updated on December 18, 2020
Smartphones, tablets, computers, and other electronic devices are readily available to minors. Most minors use tablets and other electronic devices for schoolwork. Most of these devices are equipped with cameras that allow for pictures, videos, and live chat.
Combine the availability of electronic devices with the interest in Facetime, Skype, and other apps that allow teens and minors to connect, and you have the potential for disaster.
Numerous studies state that teen sexting occurs regularly and is a growing trend. Sexting is sending and receiving sexually explicit messages. However, it also includes sending and receiving nude or seminude videos and photographs.
Sexting generally occurs on cell phones, but it can occur online. Minors may exchange nude videos and photographs through social media accounts, apps, and other platforms, including Facetime and Skype.
Sexting is Legal Between Consenting Adults – Minors Are Another Matter
It is not illegal for consenting adults to engage in sexting or share explicit photographs and videos. However, if one of the participants is a minor, sexting on Facetime, Skype, or other electronic means is illegal.
Engaging in sexting with a minor can result in one or more charges of sex crimes in California. Examples of California sex crimes laws that sexting with a minor can violate include:
- Child pornography laws, including possessing and controlling nude images of a minor, distributing child pornography, and sexual exploitation of a child
- California Penal Code §288.2 PC makes it illegal to send or distribute harmful matter to seduce a minor
Other statutes could apply, depending on the facts of the case. Examples of sex crime statutes that might apply in a sexting case include lewd acts with a minor, revenge porn, stalking, and harassment statutes.
What are the Punishments for Sexting with a Minor in California?
Child pornography is a wobbler offense. The prosecutor can file a felony charge or a misdemeanor charge. Depending on the charge, you could face fines up to $100,000 for a felony conviction and prison sentences of several years.
Also, a conviction for sexting can result in lifetime registration as a sex offender. Being a known sex offender can have severe negative consequences on your career, personal relationships, living arrangements, and quality of life.
Civil Penalties for Sexting in California
Depending on the facts of your case, the minor’s parents may sue you on behalf of the minor for damages, including emotional distress. The civil lawsuit is separate from the criminal case.
Because California allows wage garnishments for civil judgments, you could have your wages garnished for years to pay off a civil judgment for sexting damages.
What Should You Do if You are Charged with Sexting with a Minor?
Because of the strict laws regarding sex crimes involving minors, make sure that you only become involved with individuals who are 18 years of age or older. Because some teenagers appear older than their age, err on the side of caution. If you cannot verify the person’s age or doubt the person’s age, do not become involved with the person.
Do not contact children who are under 18 years of age. If you text, Skype, or Facetime with family members, always ensure that everyone is fully clothed during the sessions. Clothing should cover all sensitive areas and should never be suggestive.
If you are arrested for sexting with a minor or any related sex crimes with minors, contact a sex crimes attorney immediately. Other things to keep in mind include:
- Do not talk to the police, including providing statements or answering questions, without your lawyer present
- Never contact the minor or the minor’s parents or attempt to contact the minor through a third party
- Avoid the urge to “explain” what happened or tell your “side of the story” to try to avoid an arrest
- Ask your attorney what to do with your electronics, if you still have possession of them
- Do not discuss the case or the situation with anyone other than your attorney because that person could be called as a witness
- Stop using all social media accounts and stay offline unless otherwise instructed by your lawyer
Your criminal defense lawyer will give you other instructions. Make sure that you do exactly what your lawyer advises. There could be one or more defenses to the sexting with a minor charge.
However, your actions could make it more difficult to defend against the charges. Your lawyer will discuss the potential defenses and your options regarding the criminal charges. Try to remain calm and allow your attorney to develop a defense strategy to the charges against you.