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Can I Get In Trouble For Having Unwanted Explicit Photos Sent to Me?

In today’s digital era, sexting among teenagers has become a social phenomenon shown to be somewhat of a gray area in the court system. Sexting involves sending explicit (usually nude or semi-nude) photos one oneself to another person, typically via cell phone.


Depending on factors such as the type of photo send, some of the activity may be protected by free speech laws, but there are still instances where explicit photos sent on cell phones cross the legal line and lead someone to be charged with a sex crime.


The problem is that these are two-way communications that may or may not be wanted by the recipient. In fact, sometimes that is the purpose even when the recipient has been clear about not wanting the messages. Willingness is a considerable issue in any criminal charge situation, and often not wanting the photos delivered via cell phone can be exculpatory.


But, sometimes this activity can leave defendants at a loss of how to go about these accusations when they are caught with specific types of explicit photos. This is when it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice and representation.

Age Absolutely Matters

Almost all of the California sexting laws pertain to the age of the individual in the photo. If the individual in the photo is under 18 years old, it means that the person either sending or receiving the photo can be charged with child pornography distribution or possession, according to California Penal Code Section 311.1, 311.2 (knowingly sending, transporting, producing, possessing or duplicating child pornography with intent to distribute).


Charges for this crime could be anywhere from a $2,500 fine to 1 year in state prison and a requirement to registering under the lifelong Sex Offender Registry, all of which has information available to the public.


Pictures with children are highly problematic, whether they are wanted or not. If you receive unwanted explicit photos from someone under 18, you should immediately delete them to avoid possibly being charged with this crime.

Revenge Porn

California is one of the states that has enacted revenge porn laws in recent years. Recipients of the images may not always be wanting the photos, but this is of little concern to other parties wanting to humiliate someone.


How these photos are handled is vital for the recipient, and those who receive them can get caught in the middle when an investigation is ongoing. It is still important to have effective legal counsel when this happens even if the photos are not authorized.

How an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

If you or your child has been charged with a sex crime, you need to take immediate action. Being convicted of a child pornography felony can have devastating effects on your life or the life of your child forever. An effective criminal defense attorney can craft a case for the court that can exonerate certain defendants when reasonable doubt can be established.


Being charged for having explicit photos on your phone can create real future legal issues for those convicted. Always call Mark Raymond MacDonald for solid representation and defend the charges. It is an investment in your future as well as your freedom.