In an age of technology, digital communication is a normal everyday activity for many, especially those of younger generations. However, with the power to communicate instantaneously comes the power to communicate instantaneously in less than legal ways.
Many teenagers do not realize that when they send nude, sexually explicit or even merely suggestive photos to friends, they commit a serious crime. Sexting is a crime when done against a person’s will as part of harassment or stalking. However, when a case involves a minor, it is always illegal, regardless of consent. This includes when a minor sends it to another minor.
Sexting involving minors
Under Maryland law, sexting involving minors falls under the state’s child pornography laws, as well as connected laws. These include those regulating sharing obscene materials with children and possessing sexually explicit ones. A teenager who does not solicit a sext but receives and keeps one falls under these laws and is subject to the penalties for violating them. Distributing any images, videos or other content from the sext is also a violation of the laws. Instances involving adults who send sexts to minors or keep unsolicited ones from them also fall under these laws.
2021 sexting law
In 2021, the state enacted a law mitigating penalties for minors caught sexting. Courts may sentence teens to educational programs and the accused now have coercion, solicitation and intimidation as potential affirmative defenses. They also do not have to have their names put in the sex offender base. However, they are still subject to charges under child pornography and other related charges.
Sexting carries severe consequences for minors. Even if they did not invite sexts, they remain culpable if they did not immediately delete and/or report them.