Sexting Crimes

As sexting has become more prominent in Pennsylvania, lawmakers have taken steps to discourage this practice and punish offenders. Minors in Pennsylvania can face severe penalties for sexting, including jail time in some cases. Adults, meanwhile, can face charges for sharing sexually explicit images of a current or former partner without their partner’s permission. If you face sexting charges in Pittsburgh or anywhere else in Pennsylvania, you need a capable sex crimes lawyer to defend your rights and freedom.

Pennsylvania’s Sexting Laws

There are two Pennsylvania laws concerning sexting that may apply in these cases:

Transmission of Sexually Explicit Images by Minor

Under Pennsylvania law, if a minor shares a sexually explicit image of themselves, it is considered a summary offense. This is the least severe category of offense, similar to a minor traffic violation. However, if a minor shares sexually explicit images of another minor who is 12 years of age or older, the law treats this action more seriously. Depending on the circumstances, this offense can be a third-degree misdemeanor.

The law becomes stricter if the minor shares these images not just carelessly, but with malicious intent. For instance, if a minor shares or makes images of another minor without their consent and does so to harass, intimidate, or emotionally distress them, the offense becomes a misdemeanor of the second degree.

Unlawful Dissemination of Intimate Image

This law targets situations where someone, usually an adult instead of a minor, shares intimate images of a current or former partner without their consent and with the intent to harass or alarm them. Many people call this offense “revenge porn.” If the person in the image is a minor, the offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is quite serious. If the person is not a minor, it is a second-degree misdemeanor.

Penalties for Sexting in Pennsylvania

The penalties for breaking Pennsylvania’s sexting laws depend on the offense and its classification. Broadly speaking, these are the penalties someone could face for sexting:

  • Summary Offense – At the upper end, the penalties for summary offenses under Pennsylvania law include a fine of up to $250 and up to 90 days in jail.
  • Third-Degree Misdemeanor – Up to 90 days in jail, and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor – Up to two years in prison, and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor – Up to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

How We Can Help if You Face Sexting Charges

It is crucial to hire an attorney if you face sexting charges in Pennsylvania. Our lawyers can examine the case against you, see if the police obtained any evidence illegally, and negotiate with prosecutors to reduce the charges against you or the potential penalties for an alleged offense. If you are a minor with a clean record, we can ask the courts to refer you to a diversionary program instead of fining you or sending you to jail, keeping you from experiencing the most harmful potential outcome in your case.

Do not risk the most severe consequences of a sexting charge by not hiring a capable attorney. Contact Stanton D. Levenson, P.A. Law Offices now for a confidential consultation.