Teen Sexting Laws in Your State

Nov 12, 2017

There are no specific sexting laws in most states, with a few that have recently passed legislation related to creating, sending and distributing sexually explicit photos of minors via text message/cell phone.

In most cases, minors and adults are charged under the state’s child pornography laws, with potential jail time and are required to register as a sex offender.

Take a look at our table below!

Sexting Laws by State

StateDescription
Alabama Alabama has no specific laws for teen sexting. Anyone found sending or receiving inappropriate images of a minor—including images of them or someone else—could be prosecuted under the state’s current child pornography, obscenity or material harmful to minor’s laws.
Alaska Anyone regardless of age can be prosecuted if caught promoting, distributing or possessing sexually explicit photos of minors under the states current child pornography laws. Legislature was recently proposed to lighten punishment for offenders that are at least 16 years of age and engaged in sexting. In this legislation, minors under the age of 16 will not be prosecuted if found to be distributing sexually explicit images of themselves.
Arizona Arizona has a sexting law that applies only to minors. If a minor engages with another minor in sexting could be found guilty of a petty offense of class 3 misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. Adults age 18 and older found sexting with a minor will be charged under Arizona’s child pornography laws.
Arkansas Arkansas has no current sexting laws, but prosecutes anyone who creates, distributes or possesses sexually explicit images of a minor under the current child pornography laws with potential to serve jail time.
California California currently charges anyone who creates, distributes or possesses sexually explicit images of a minor under child pornography laws. A bill was recently proposed to reduce the punishment of any first time sexting offenders who are minors, with the punishment being community service and mandatory counseling.
Colorado With no specific sexting laws, Colorado prosecutes anyone who creates, distributes or possesses sexually explicit images of a minor with felony charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, which could result in jail time.
Connecticut Minors caught sexting will be charged with a misdemeanor, as of November 1, 2010. These individuals could face up to one year in prison in addition to a fine of $2,000.
Delaware Regardless of age, Deleware can prosecute anyone who creates, distributes or possesses sexually explicit images of a minor under current child pornography laws.
Florida For the first offense, any minor caught sending, possessing or creating nude images of minors can receive a non-criminal violation, subject to a $60 fine or 8 hours of community service in addition to training or instructional classes about the dangers of sexting.
Georgia Anyone who creates, distributes or possesses sexually explicit images of a minor can be charged with misdemeanor or felony under Georgia’s current child pornography laws. If convicted of a felony, they could face up to 20 years in prison.
Hawaii Anyone creating, distributing or possessing inappropriate images of a minor engaged in a sexually explicit act will be charged under child pornography laws. Legislature was recently proposed to make sexting between minors a misdemeanor and a felony if one of the people caught is an adult.
Idaho Like other states with no sexting laws, those found creating, distributing or possessing inappropriate images of a minor engaged in a sexually explicit act will be charged under child pornography laws with potential to serve up to 30 years in jail.
Illinois In 2010, Illinois passed a law that makes sexting between minors illegal, including if two minors sexting or a minor distributing sexually explicit images of another minor. They will be charged with a misdemeanor and ordered to receive court supervision, counseling or community service.
Indiana Regardless of age, anyone found sending or receiving sexually explicit photos of a minor can be prosecuted in Indiana. Recently proposed legislation would lighten the sentence provided for minors and teens engaged in sexting if the images were created voluntarily, the two individuals are separated by four years or less, or they are in a relationship.
Iowa While Iowa has no specific sexting laws, anyone found to be promoting, distributing or possessing images of minors engaged in explicit sexual acts can be prosecuted in current child pornography laws.
Kansas Anyone who creates, distributes or possesses images of a minor engaged in a sexually explicit act will be charged under current child pornography laws with potential jail time to be served. There are no specific laws for sexting.
Kentucky With no specific sexting laws, anyone in Kentucky who creates, distributes or possesses images of a minor engaged in a sexually explicit act may be prosecuted under child pornography laws with possible jail time.
Louisiana If a minor—anyone under the age of 17 in this state—is found to distribute an indecent photo of him or herself to another minor may have to undergo counseling or other punishments, but will not receive jail time. If a minor distributes an inappropriate picture of another minor may be punished with up to 10 years in jail and a $250 fine. Stricter penalties are in place for adults, including jail time.
Maine Anyone, regardless of age, found to be creating, distributing or possessing images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts would be prosecuted under child pornography laws with possible jail time. There are currently no sexting-specific laws in Maine.
Maryland Both minors and adults found to be creating, distributing or possessing images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts would be prosecuted under child pornography laws.
Massachusetts While the state did try to pass strict sexting laws, but they were overturned by a federal judge, citing that they were too broad. Adults and minors will currently be prosecuted under child pornography laws is found to be creating, distributing or possessing images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts.
Michigan Without any specific sexting laws or statutes, anyone who is creating, distributing or possessing images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts would be prosecuted under child pornography laws and likely face jail time.
Minnesota Adults or minors in Minnesota who create, distribute or possess images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts can be prosecuted under child pornography laws. If convicted they will likely serve jail time. There are no specific sexting laws at the time.
Mississippi With no sexting laws, anyone who creates, distributes or possesses images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts can be prosecuted under child pornography laws with potential jail time.
Missouri If a minor is caught possessing or distributing sexually explicit images of a minor—including photos of themselves—will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor on their first offense, with up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Montana If anyone is found possessing or distributing sexually explicit images of a minor, including minors, will be prosecuted under child pornography laws, possibly with 100 years to life in prison.
Nebraska In 2009, a law was passed making it a crime to send sexually explicit photos of a minor via text message. Offenders under the age of 18 will not be prosecuted for receiving such images of a minor 15 years of age or older if the image was taken voluntarily and the recipient doesn’t distribute the image to anyone else.
Nevada Nevada’s law, passed in 2011, applies only to minors who are caught sexting, with lesser punishment than if charged under child pornography laws.
New Hampshire Anyone who possesses a sexually explicit image of a minor can be charged with possession of child pornography. Minors found guilty are subject to juvenile delinquency charges; adults will be subject to criminal proceedings.
New Jersey The first time a minor is caught sexting, they will not be prosecuted under current child pornography laws. Under this new law, if caught sending sexually explicit images via cell phone, minors will be required to attend a state-sponsored educational program about the dangers of sending these images.
New Mexico In New Mexico, anyone, regardless of age who creates, distributes or possesses images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit act will be prosecuted under child pornography laws, with the possibility of serving up to 9 years in prison.
New York Adults and minors who create, distribute or possess images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit act would be prosecuted under child pornography laws. Proposed legislation would allow first-time offenders to avoid jail time, and unlike almost every other state, would not be required to register as a sex offender.
North Carolina With no specific sexting laws, adults and minors caught sending, receiving or taking images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts can be prosecuted under child pornography laws, with possible jail time.
North Dakota The punishment for those caught sexting are subject to being charged with a misdemeanor; before this law, anyone found guilty would have been charged under child pornography laws.
Ohio A minor found to be creating, distributing or possessing sexually explicit images of another minor could be prosecuted under child pornography laws. Proposed legislation would reduce the severity for minors to a misdemeanor and not require them to register as a sex offender.
Oklahoma Anyone found to be creating, distributing or possessing sexually explicit images of a minor could be prosecuted under child pornography laws and likely receive jail time. Proposed legislation would make the charge a misdemeanor.
Oregon Adults and minors who are creating, distributing or possessing sexually explicit images of a minor could be prosecuted under child pornography laws. Legislation was recently proposed to reduce the penalties for minors caught sexting.
Pennsylvania Minors are currently prosecuted under child pornography laws for sexting and could be subject to jail time. Proposed legislation would reduce this to a second-degree misdemeanor, and for first-time offenders, the charge would not go onto their permanent record. They would be required to forfeit their electronic devices.
Rhode Island Sexting between minors is illegal in Rhode Island, and those found guilty will be charged in State Family Court. Minors who distribute sexually explicit images of a minor other than themselves can still be charged under child pornography laws.
South Carolina Adults and minors who create, distribute or possess sexually explicit images of a minor will be charged under the state’s child pornography laws. Proposed legislation would reduce this to a misdemeanor for minors between the age of 12 and 17.
South Dakota Anyone creating, distributing or possessing sexually explicit images of a minor will be charged under child pornography laws. A recently proposed billed that would not require minors to register as a sex offender was not passed into law.
Tennessee Anyone who creates, distributes or possesses sexually explicit images of a minor will be charged under child pornography laws.
Texas A minor caught sexting can be charged with a misdemeanor as of 2011. If caught, they will be required to take a state-sponsored sexting class with one of their parents, and the conviction can be expunged after turning 18.
Utah In 2009, law was passed that makes sexting between minors a misdemeanor rather than a felony and the minor offender will not have to register as a sex offender.
Vermont Minors found to be sending explicit images of themselves will be declared delinquent in family court. For a first offense, the minor will be sent to a diversion program and will not have to register as a sex offender. The conviction can be expunged after turning 18.
Virginia While anyone caught creating, distributing or possessing sexually explicit images of a minor will be charged under child pornography laws, in Virginia, each act is considered a separate offense, resulting in multiple charges.
Washington Anyone caught creating, distributing or possessing sexually explicit images of a minor will be charged under the state’s child pornography laws, facing possible jail time.
West Virginia Adults and minors who create, distribute or possess sexually explicit images of a minor will be charged under the state’s child pornography laws. If convicted, they could serve jail time.
Wisconsin Any one who creates, distributes or possesses sexually explicit images of a minor will be charged under the state’s child pornography laws, with possible jail time.
Wyoming Any person who creates, distributes or possesses sexually explicit images of a minor will be charged under the state’s child pornography laws.