Law Office of Lowell Steiger

Sexting and the Law (Part One)

Author: Lowell Steiger

Published On: September 7, 2010

Yikes! Sexting may sound harmless but it is far from it! Sexting can land the sender in prison for a felony and can cause that person to have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his or her natural life! This is no laughing matter and the powers-that-be (i.e. police and prosecutors) take sexting very, very seriously.

What, exactly, is sexting? Well, according to Wikipedia, “Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones.”

In California, Sexting is made a crime by Penal Code Section 288.2 which basically says that it’s a crime to send a message to a minor
if the message is intended to arouse or seduce the minor. This crime applies even if the sender is himself or herself a minor and that minor can be prosecuted!

Although we all know that a minor in California is defined as someone who is less than 18 years of age, click here to read‘s interesting discussion of California Statutory Rape.

 What are the consequences? Well, for starters up to three years in prison. Then, pursuant to California Penal Code Section 290, someone convicted of Penal Code Section 288.2 shall be required to register as a sex offender. For life!

Recent Arrests of Alleged Sexting Violators

ABC NewsA Stockton student was arrested on suspicion of “sexting” – sending inappropriate sexual material via text – to a minor, according to a school district spokesperson. 

The arrested teen was identified as Austin Butler, 18. “Apparently the evidence suggested that the texting back and forth had been sufficient to establish a pattern,” said Lee.

CBS NewsAn accused serial sexter” is behind bars for allegedly harassing hundreds of women with offensive text messages.

Police say there are victims across California and at least two other states.

Steven Sharp, 30, was arrested at his home in Hayward, California after the Ione Police Department conducted a sting operation. A police officer apparently posed as a 13-year-old girl, and in one week, Sharp allegedly made 100 phone calls and sent 2,000 text messages to her. 

Read about the real life dangers of sexting In Sexting and the Law (Part Two), coming soon.

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