Sexting in New Mexico – Implications for Adults and Minors
It didn’t take long for texting to lead to sexting, but it is taking a long time for our laws to catch up to this relatively new technological phenomenon. Adults and teens alike are being convicted under child pornography statutes for sending and/or receiving sexually explicit pictures and videos. What may start out as an innocent exchange between two romantic partners could eventually end up with dire, long-term consequences for both parties.
Federal Sexting Laws
Federal pornography laws make it illegal to produce, distribute, receive, or possess with the intent to distribute an obscene image of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. In fact, knowing that you have that type of material in your possession, even if you don’t intend to distribute it, is against the law.
Federal law also makes it a crime to entice a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for purposes of creating a depiction of that conduct. Parents who knowingly permit their minor children to engage in sexually explicit conduct for that purpose can also be charged under federal laws prohibiting the exploitation of children.
Sexting is also implicated in the federal crime of using a computer to transmit, promote, distribute, or receive images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. For example, an 18-year-old may have received a sexually explicit image via text from his 15-year-old girlfriend in New Mexico, but upon breaking up, the 18-year-old may decide to “share” the image with his friends in New York and Arizona by forwarding the text. This action may violate federal crimes related to child pornography.
New Mexico Sexting Laws
Sexting can also be prosecuted under New Mexico child pornography laws. A teen boy may ask his teen girlfriend to send him a naked photo of herself, then share the photo with his friends and all of them may be prosecuted under the New Mexico child pornography laws.
New Mexico also makes it a crime to distribute or show a sexually explicit image or video to a child. New Mexico Statute 30-37-3.3 prohibits sexual communications with a child under the age of 16. So again, given the above example, two 15 year-olds sending nude photos of each other via text could be charged in violation of New Mexico sexting laws.
Penalties for Violating State and Federal Sexting Laws
Sexting is not to be taken lightly. The penalty for enticing a minor to engage in sexual conduct for the purpose of creating or distributing child pornography is up to $5,000 in fines and up to six years in prison. Creating child pornography carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $12,500. Simply possessing child pornography can land a person in prison for up to 18 months and a fine of up to $5,000.
Providing sexual material to a minor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
If you have been charged with state or federal charges related to sexting, contact the experts at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. Our child pornography defense attorneys are committed to fighting for your interests and obtaining the best possible outcome for you. Call us today at 505-200-2982 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.