Michigan

Sexting Defense Lawyer

As smartphone use increases nationwide, so does the ability to send all kinds of messages and images almost instantly. This has led to a massive increase in “sexting,” or sharing explicit or suggestive photos or messages electronically.

While sexting itself is not illegal, it can quickly become a crime if the images involve anyone under the age of 18. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced defense attorney who knows the specifics of Michigan sex crimes law.

Watch video

As smartphone use increases nationwide, so does the ability to send all kinds of messages and images almost instantly. This has led to a massive increase in “sexting,” or sharing explicit or suggestive photos or messages electronically.

While sexting itself is not illegal, it can quickly become a crime if the images involve anyone under the age of 18. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced defense attorney who knows the specifics of Michigan sex crimes law.

Criminal charges that can arise from sexting

Some states have adopted specific legislation to deal with sexting, but Michigan is not one of them.

In Michigan, making, distributing, and possessing sexually explicit photos of a minor therefore fall under the category of child pornography, and a charge for sexting can be treated as manufacturing child pornography, receiving child pornography and disseminating child pornography.

This can lead to other charges, as well, including:

  • Possessing obscene material with the intent to distribute
  • Distributing obscene material
  • Harassment

Nude and suggestive photos of a minor are almost certainly considered to be obscene.

What are the penalties in Michigan?

If a sexting act leads to a conviction, the penalties can be incredibly severe – from fines to serious prison time.

Child Pornography Charges

Making child pornography:
  • up to 20 years in prison,
  • a fine up to $100,000, or
  • both
Distributing child pornography:
  • up to 7 years in prison,
  • a fine up to $50,000, or
  • both
Possession of child pornography:
  • up to 4 years in prison,
  • a fine up to $10,000, or
  • both

Obscenity Charges

Obscenity:
  • no more than one year in jail,
  • a fine of not more than $100,000, or
  • both
Subsequent convictions:
  • punished more severely
  • may include fines as high as $5,000,000

Sex Offender Registration

Under Michigan law, if someone is convicted of either child pornography or obscene material featuring minors, they are required to register as a sex offender. The law is different for individuals 16 and under, but you will need to speak to a qualified defense attorney to determine if registration on the sex offender registry could be an issue. For those who do have to register, the length of time they are required to register for varies according to their conviction, and they will have to provide the police with their name, contact information, and photo while they are registered. In Michigan, much of that information is available to the public but there is also a private sex offender registry that juveniles can get placed on for life.

What if a juvenile is charged with sexting?

This matter becomes increasingly complicated when you take into account the number of teenagers who engage in sexting. Some estimates claim that one in five teenagers have sent nude or suggestive photos of themselves to another party.

So how does the law deal with a minor who takes, distributes, or possesses nude photos of themself or another, or convinces another minor to take these types of photos of themselves?

Unfortunately, Michigan law has no specifications for minors who commit these acts. For example, if an 18 year old boy asks a 16 year old girl for nude photos and she send them to him, the boy could be charged with persuading the girl to make child pornography, in addition to possession of the photos. The girl could be charged with making and distributing child pornography – even though the photos are of her.

Additionally, because the distribution of these photos or messages can be done so quickly and easily, it could very well lead to harassment and bullying. So young people who share these types of photos could not only face consequences at school for bullying, but also face a harassment charge from law enforcement. In many cases, when photos are sent consensually, the sender claims they were harassed into sexting to avoid getting in trouble themselves when the pictures are discovered.

If the police come asking for your child’s phone without a warrant, you have the right to say no. But your immediate next step should be to contact an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney.

"
Shannon Smith helped my 18 year old nephew navigate sexual conduct charges against him. He was facing serious charges that would have resulted in significant prison time and a listing on the sexual offender registry for life. Shannon was matter of fact and deftly guided the judge and prosecution with her excellent preparation for the case and due diligence. She saved our boy from an onerous sentence and a lifetime of stigmatization. I highly recommend Shannon's services, and completely respect the work she undertakes in bringing a fair end to the charges individuals face for youthful indiscretion.”
~ Nicola

"

Shannon Smith helped my 18 year old nephew navigate sexual conduct charges against him. He was facing serious charges that would have resulted in significant prison time and a listing on the sexual offender registry for life. Shannon was matter of fact and deftly guided the judge and prosecution with her excellent preparation for the case and due diligence. She saved our boy from an onerous sentence and a lifetime of stigmatization. I highly recommend Shannon's services, and completely respect the work she undertakes in bringing a fair end to the charges individuals face for youthful indiscretion.”

~ Nicola

Contact us if you think your child may be facing a charge for sexting

At Smith Blythe, we dedicate our practice to representing people accused of criminal sexual conduct. If you are concerned that your child or loved one may be facing a charge related to sexting, contact us as soon as possible. We will work with you to help you understand your legal options, choose the best possible route, and fight for justice for your loved one.

Fill out the form with the details of your situation to get started.

Are you a new client? Yes, I am a potential new client.No, I am a current existing client.I'm neither

Contact us if you think your child may be facing a charge for sexting

At Smith Blythe, we dedicate our practice to representing people accused of criminal sexual conduct. If you are concerned that your child or loved one may be facing a charge related to sexting, contact us as soon as possible. We will work with you to help you understand your legal options, choose the best possible route, and fight for justice for your loved one.

Get in touch with Smith Blythe P.C. today

Are you a new client? Yes, I am a potential new client.No, I am a current existing client.I'm neither