In: Juvenile Crimes

Is Against the Law for Teenagers to Text Nude Photos in Texas?


Denton criminal lawyer explains the complexities surrounding state laws

Teenagers seem to be getting older and older faster than ever before. Most of them are doing things that many of us didn’t start doing until college – and that includes sexual exploration, much to the chagrin of many parents. Many are even sending nude photos of themselves to boyfriends and girlfriends or romantic interests, as well as racy messages. If they get caught, not only will they likely be in hot water with their parents, but they can also face legal consequences, as well.

Texas has strict laws about the possession, creation, or distribution of sexually explicit images of videos with minors in them – even if those images and videos are exchanges among teenagers who are sending them to each other consensually. Say you’re 16-year-old daughter takes a topless picture and sends it to her boyfriend. Not only can she be prosecuted for creating the image – which is technically child pornography – but the boy can also be prosecuted for possession of the image. If he shares the image with anyone else, he can be prosecuted for distributing child pornography.

Laws that can apply to sexting among teens include:

  • Sexual performance by a child
  • Possession or promotion of child pornography
  • Electronic transmission of certain visual material depicting minors (the so-called “sexting law”)
  • Sale, distribution, or display of harmful material to a minor
  • Unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material

Where these cases can get tricky when prosecuting an egregious action, such as an adult posing as a teenager and inducing another teen to send a nude picture or a teen showing off the nude photos to friends. The parents may want to press charges in these instances, but doing so would necessarily put their own child in jeopardy since their child created and shared the image, also violating the law.

The sexting law provides an affirmative defense to teenagers who are sending nude pictures to each other when they are in a relationship and are within two years of age of each other. But the other child pornography laws in Texas directly contradict that law, making it a crime to create, possess, or distribute images of minors in consensual or forced sexual images or videos. Making things even more complex, the age of consent in Texas is 17, which means that a teenager can have a relationship with an older adult, but that same teen cannot send or receive nude images with the older person in the relationship, unless they are within 2 years of age of each other.

It is important that you talk with Brent D. Bowen, an experienced Denton criminal lawyer, to make sense of these laws and to learn about your options. If someone has bullied or harassed your teen as a result of nude images, or if someone has shared nude images of your teen without permission, these are serious offenses and should be punished. But your teen should not be put in the legal crosshairs as a result. Attorney Bowen helps you understand the best options for moving forward and getting justice. Or, if your teen has been accused of misbehavior as a result of sexting or sharing nude images, he helps you form a strong defense. Call our firm at (940) 222-2488 or use our secure online form to schedule a consultation.

Attorney Brent Bowen handled one of the first “sexting” cases in north Texas and was featured on WFAA channel 8 and CBS channel 11 in DFW.