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Is Sexting Illegal in Michigan?

Jan 11, 2023, by Maurice Davis in Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes
Man using phone in the dark

Sharing nude photos and videos is not uncommon; however, there are situations where it may be illegal. In some scenarios sexting can be considered a sex crime, which can carry potential consequences such as a sex offender registration requirement upon a sentencing. If someone is charged with spreading sexually explicit materials illegally, there could be additional severe consequences.

What Is Sexting?

Sexting involves sharing explicit or suggestive photos or videos by any electronic means. The most common example is a nude photograph being shared via text message.
There is no law prohibiting adults from sexting. Sexting between two consenting adults is legal. However, digital content that includes minors is illegal to create, transmit, and possess.

Is it Illegal for Minors to Sext?

Explicit or even suggestive pictures and videos of minors are considered child pornography. A person, especially an adult, possessing those pictures and videos can be charged under Michigan’s child pornography laws. In some cases, even teens with these images can be criminally charged.

It is common for teens to have cell phones that take high-quality pictures and videos. They are often pressured into taking semi-nude and explicit photos and sending them to friends and romantic partners. Those images are sometimes forwarded to other people without the consent of the person in those pictures. In that case, the original person loses control of who sees their nude photos, and they may even end up being posted online.

Sometimes, teens who consensually text one another explicit or suggestive images may fall under Michigan’s Romeo and Juliet law. This is designed to prevent two children from being charged criminally. However, if one person pressured the other or took advantage of the other in any way, the Romeo and Juliet law would not apply.

Are There Penalties for Illegally Spreading Explicit Material?

It is illegal to create, transmit, or possess sexually explicit material that includes a minor. It is also unlawful to spread explicit material without the knowledge of or against the wishes of the person in the images.

A person convicted of these sex crimes may face a felony, including years in prison and a fine of at least $10,000. You will also have to join the sex offender registry, possibly for life. This can affect where you live and work.

If you possess sexually explicit images of a minor, you may face up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Sharing or distributing those images can lead to a seven-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $50,000. Creating sexually explicit content involving a minor can result in up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

What Is Sextortion?

Blackmailing someone with explicit content is also illegal. This is called sextortion and sometimes revenge porn. This is often a form of cyberbullying where one party has nude or suggestive pictures or videos of someone else.

Suppose you threaten, coerce, or intimidate a person regarding the dissemination of sexually explicit material. In that case, you will face serious consequences, including up to a year in prison or a fine of up to $1,000. Penalties increase with the number of times the offense is committed.

A sextortion defense lawyer can help you avoid the worst penalties by finding evidence that supports your innocence. They can also negotiate with the prosecution to avoid time in prison.

Victims of cyberbullying and sextortion can find help by texting the Crisis Text Line or send START to 741741.

How Can a Defense Attorney Help Me?

Michigan’s sexting laws impose serious penalties in certain situations. If images were not taken consensually or depict minors, you may face years in prison and many other lifelong implications. Even teenagers taking part in what they feel is a natural sharing of images may face serious consequences.

A sexting defense lawyer can evaluate your specific situation and get evidence to support your case. They can also negotiate with the prosecutor and school officials on your behalf. You shouldn’t handle the problem on your own.

What Should I Do If I Find Sexually Explicit Images on My Child’s Phone?

If you find images that could be considered child pornography on your child’s phone or computer, you should immediately contact a sexting defense lawyer. Your child may be facing charges for possession of the images, or they may be the subject of the images. In either case, you need to talk to someone who understands how to handle the situation carefully.

Call the Davis Law Group for Help

While not all sharing of explicit images is illegal, some of it is. Illegal sexting can ruin your life. You need to work closely with an attorney who can stand by you and protect your rights throughout the criminal legal process.

Call attorney Maurice Davis at (313) 818-3238 or reach out online to schedule a consultation to discuss how we can help you immediately.

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