Can I Be Arrested for Sexting?
Beware: Crossing the Line Could Land You in Serious Legal Trouble
Sexting, that is exchanging photos, videos, or text messages with sexually explicit material can be a turn-on for consenting adults. However, if you indulge in such activities, you must balance on a razor-thin line to stay out of significant legal problems. Anyone who crosses this line may face arrest and prosecution for any number of crimes. And in addition to legal woes, you could also face societal scorn and embarrassment.
Take charge of your future now. If law enforcement suspects you of unlawfully sending sexually explicit material or you get arrested for sexting, then you need the expertise and knowledge of the sexting defense lawyers from the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. Their aggressive representation will give you the best opportunity to achieve a favorable outcome for your New Mexico sexting charges.
Where Is the Fine Line Between Legal and Illegal Sexting?
In New Mexico, there is nothing illegal about two adults who want to share intimate photos or videos with each other. As long as both are adults and both consent, then there should not be a problem. However, you could run into massive trouble if you took a photo secretly and shared it with others without the consent of the person depicted. Also, you could face arrest if you send intimate photos to a person who does not consent to receive them.
Voyeurism is a crime in New Mexico. Under New Mexico Statutes 30-9-20, voyeurism is the unlawful act of watching, photographing, or recording someone without their consent while they are in a place where they have an expectation of privacy. The alleged victim must have their “intimate areas” exposed or wearing underwear when recorded for the act to qualify as voyeurism. Examples of places where someone has an expectation of privacy include:
- Doctor’s office;
- Tanning booth;
- Clothing store dressing room; and
- A person’s home—especially in the bedroom.
Other locations may also qualify as a place where the alleged victim enjoys an expectation of privacy.
Please note that recording or photographing a person in this manner with the person’s consent is not a crime. However, the lack of knowledge and consent makes voyeurism a crime.
Voyeurism can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. The difference depends on the age of the alleged victim. A person convicted of a misdemeanor faces up to 364 days in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000. If the alleged victim is under 18 years of age, then the crime is a fourth-degree felony. Fourth-degree felony convictions carry up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine in most cases.
Repeatedly sending unwanted photos to another person could qualify as harassment. State law defines harassment as a pattern of conduct directed at a person that is intended to annoy or alarm that person while serving no legitimate lawful purpose. The conduct must rise to such a level that a reasonable person would suffer emotional distress if put in that situation. According to New Mexico Statutes 30-3A-2, harassment is a misdemeanor. Notwithstanding, harassment can become a felony if the crime rises to the level of stalking.
Stalking in New Mexico consists of a pattern of conduct that causes the alleged victim to reasonably fear that they could become a victim of sexual assault or other violent crime. In this context, a pattern of conduct means two or more incidents. You should note that you do not have to send the illicit message to the alleged victim directly to face stalking charges. Sending the illicit materials to another person could qualify as stalking if the alleged victim knows about the third-party communications and experiences fear.
Stalking under 30-3A-3 is a misdemeanor if it is your first offense. A subsequent stalking offense is a fourth-degree felony. Moreover, you could face aggravated stalking charges if the alleged victim is under 16. Aggravated stalking is a fourth-degree felony, but can become a third-degree felony if you have a previous stalking conviction.
Can I Be Arrested for Sexting As a Teenager?
Yes. According to New Mexico Statutes 30-6A-3, anyone who possesses obscene material depicting a person under 18 years of age can face prosecution for the sexual exploitation of a child. A person who creates or possesses photos, videos, or other depictions of a child in a state of nudity or engaged in a sexual act faces a fourth-degree felony.
The statute creates a loophole for teens between the ages of 14 and 18 as long as they both consented. The statute expressly states that the exception applies as long there was no coercion when they created the obscene material. The slightest evidence of coercion closes the loophole.
How Would This Law Apply to a Teenager?
Romeo and Juliet laws are exceptions for teenagers who are intimately involved. New Mexico’s law fits into that category. Romeo and Juliet laws recognize the modern view that teenagers in dating relationships may become intimate. Therefore, prosecuting them for statutory rape or other acts that consenting adults may engage in is not the best way to handle the situation. The penalties are too harsh and the ramifications are too substantial to justify punishing two teens in a romantic relationship.
So, if one partner sends explicit “selfies” to the other or they share a video they made together with each other’s consent, then the law may not apply. But, sharing photos or videos to others without the consent of both partners or taking illicit photos or videos without the other’s consent is a crime.
You should also recognize that this law seems to apply only to teenagers of high school age. And a person who is 19, although still a teenager, is an adult under New Mexico’s sexual exploitation of a minor law. So if a 19-year-old and a 17-year-old are involved, the 19-year-old could face prosecution.
The penalty for the exploitation of a minor in New Mexico is a 10-year prison sentence. Additionally, the law requires you to register as a sex offender.
Displaying Pornography to Minors Is a Crime in New Mexico
Any person who has not reached the age of 18 cannot view any material deemed to be harmful to minors in New Mexico. You run the risk of committing a misdemeanor by showing a child any photo or video of people in the nude or in a state of sexual arousal.
The crime of child solicitation by an electronic device is a felony in New Mexico. This law prohibits a person from soliciting sex from a person under 16-years-of-age when the person soliciting the child is more than four years older. Soliciting a minor means requesting the minor to engage in sexual conduct. The crime is a third-degree felony if the child is younger than 13. The crime is a fourth-degree felony if the child is between 13 and 16.
You Need a Vigorous Defense if You Were Arrested for Sexting
Contact the sex crimes charges defense attorneys from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices right away if you were arrested for sexting. The sooner you involve us in your case, the better chance we have of achieving a favorable result for you.
All criminal charges can have serious implications for your life. However, facing charges related to sex crimes can ruin your reputation as well. Fight back with the help from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices’ experienced legal team. We are here to help. Call us today at 505-200-2982. No one works harder for you.