Help is Only a Heartbeat Away logo with McPhillips Shinbaum Attorneys

Sexting and Alabama Obscenity Laws

When the first automobiles began rolling off the assembly line a century ago, no one was envisioning roadside fast food or drive-in movies. Likewise, the technology wizards who came up with hand-held devices that have photo and video capabilities probably did not anticipate the “sexting” craze among teenagers — the sharing of naked photos and sexually explicit videos via cell phones. What many teens do not realize is that sexting is a criminal act in most states, including Alabama.

One highly publicized case involved three Virginia teenagers who were arrested on felony charges of child pornography after they sent videos depicting some of their drunken sexual activities.

Even though the other participants had consented to be filmed and the videos had not been sent to anyone outside their circle, Fairfax County prosecutors argued that the material legally constituted child pornography.

The case was finally settled after two of the teens entered a plea deal and testified against the third boy, who was charged with a felony count of unlawful filming and sentenced to three days in a juvenile detention center.

In Alabama, anyone who produces, distributes or is in possession of sexually explicit material involving anyone under the age of 17 can be arrested on obscenity and child pornography charges:

  • A teenager who takes a naked picture of herself and sends it to her boyfriend has violated three laws against producing, distributing or possessing child pornography.
  • The boyfriend could be prosecuted for possessing child pornography. Penalties for this serious felony may include jail time and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

Parents should make sure their teenagers understand that sharing sexually explicit images is a crime in Alabama. If your minor child is faced with sexting-related charges, make sure you contact us to discuss strategies to safeguard their rights.