Though sexting might not seem like a big deal to immature teens going through puberty, the truth is this act carries harsh consequences. Sexting is the transmission of a sexually explicit image or message through a mobile web-enabled device. Sexing is not officially categorized as a crime yet it has the potential to spur criminal charges. If the transgressor sends a sexually-related image to a minor or makes an indecent proposal to a minor, Oklahoma’s comparably harsh obscenity laws will kick in. A minor living in Oklahoma is likely to face a sex crime charge for transmitting a sexually explicit picture even if the image is of him or herself.
The Fallout From Sexting
Oklahoma state law and federal child porn laws make it illegal to transmit sexualized images of minors younger than the age of 18. Age is of the utmost importance in the context of sexting. The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16 yet the transmission of a sexualized image of an individual under 18 is prohibited by law. Therefore, an individual who is legally empowered to consent to sex is unable to provide legal consent to appear in sexual images or video in the nude. Those who make, possess or distribute such images can be charged in Oklahoma state court or federal court.
Oklahoma’s Penalties for Sexting
Oklahoma’s laws pertaining to sexting make it crystal clear as to what the penalties are for the transmission of sexually oriented images. An individual younger than 18 who transmits child porn of another minor age 13 or older through an electronic device can be found guilty of a misdemeanor violation. The misdemeanor still applies even if the pictured individual provided consent and the image was transmitted to five or fewer people/destinations. The penalties applicable to this offense include a fine of $500 or less for first-time offenders under the age of 18. A second offense will spur a fine of $1,000 or more.
Furthermore, the transgressor will have to complete upwards of 40 hours of community service. He or she will also likely be referred to a juvenile bureau so a probation plan can be made by way of disposition. The transgressor might also have to successfully complete a delinquency prevention and diversion program and/or an educational program as detailed in Title 70 of Section 24-100.4 of Oklahoma Statutes. The court can also direct the juvenile’s parent/legal guardian to attend and finish the aforementioned educational program.
Distinctions of Note
Oklahoma law is somewhat unique in that the criminality of sexting is not impacted when the individual sending the image or message is the one depicted in that image/message. Oklahoma law states the teen found guilty of the transgression can be categorized as his/her own victim. Affirmative defenses are available in certain situations. If the juvenile did not solicit the image and did not send, present, print or disseminate the image but for the original transmission to the proper authority, he or she will have an affirmative defense. The logic in allowing for such an affirmative defense is to provide teens with protection after receiving unrequested sexual images so they can report those images to school authorities or the police as appropriate.
Sex Offender Status
Sadly, a teen who is found guilty of sexting has the potential to be convicted as a sex offender. As an example, a minor who transmits a nude photograph of him or herself to a significant other and even the significant other who receives the photo in question both have the potential to be labeled sex offenders. Even a teen who requests a nude photo from another teen can be labeled as a sex offender. This designation will haunt the supposedly guilty party for the rest of his or her life. Getting a job that involves dealing with children, living anywhere in the vicinity of a school and maintaining a positive reputation in the community will prove difficult if not impossible after being branded a sex offender. This is precisely why everyone accused of sexting or another sex crime in Oklahoma needs and deserves top-notch legal support from a proven sex crimes attorney. Contact our law firm today to schedule an initial consultation.