“Can I go to prison for sexting?”
Former New York congressman Anthony Weiner should have asked that question before beginning an online sexting relationship with a teen girl. Instead, he proceeded to sext, was caught, and later convicted and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison.
As CNN reports, Weiner’s prison time for sexting ended Tuesday, May 14, when he was released from the Bureau of Prisons custody in New York after serving 18 months of his sentence. He was released three months early for good behavior.
Weiner spent most of his sentence in federal prison, but since February he had been held in a halfway house in New York City.
As part of his sex crime punishment, Weiner also must register for 20 years as a level one sex offender, the lowest level for sex offenders under New York rules.
You may be wondering why Weiner’s sentence was so harsh, since he never had any physical contact with the 15-year-old girl he was sexting. The answer is that the crime of transferring obscene material to a minor is emotionally charged and is considered severe under federal laws and most state laws.
However, not everyone who’s charged with sexting with a minor is guilty.
Often, overly aggressive law officers round up dozens of persons in online sex sting operations, and some are innocent of the crimes they are arrested for.
Those facing sexting charges in Houston, Harris County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County need the best defense lawyer they can find to protect them against a charge which could cost them their freedom, their livelihood, and their reputation.
Perhaps the defendant was arrested after “entrapment” by law officers posing as minors online. Such entrapment means the defendant was encouraged to commit a crime which he or she otherwise wouldn’t have committed.
Or perhaps evidence was found on a person’s computer to which others had access. That means someone else could have used the owner’s computer to engage in illegal sharing of obscene images with minors online.
Is sexting a crime in Texas?
Texas laws don’t mention the word “sexting.” But Texas Penal Code §43.24 holds that distributing or displaying prurient or harmful material to a minor (a child under 18 years old) by an adult is a crime.
Also, sending obscene images of a minor between adults is a sex crime. In fact, it’s considered child pornography.
For consenting adults, sexting is not a crime. Certain exceptions also apply for teens who sext to each other with only their own images when they are in a dating relationship and aren’t more than two years apart in age. This is known as Romeo and Juliet laws.
But for adults, sexting can lead to serious felony charges in Texas, perhaps for possessing or distributing child pornography, distributing sexual images to a minor, or promoting sexual performance by a minor. Punishment can include up to 20 years in state prison, a fine of as much as $10,000 — or both.
Whatever the case, you need a proven sex crime defense strategy if you face a charge of sexting with a minor or other offenses.
Why hire a Houston sex crime defense attorney
The Neal Davis Law Firm has helped many clients before going to trial by getting a sex crime charge reduced or even dismissed. And if necessary to go to trial, we fight for our clients’ legal rights.
You need an experienced Texas sex crime defense lawyer for your case, and make no mistake, our law firm has that experience.
If you or a family member face a charge of sexting with a minor or some other sex crime in Texas, notify the skilled sex crime defense lawyers at the Neal Davis Law Firm today. We’ll quickly give you a free and confidential legal review of your case, and then you can decide how to proceed.
Can you go to prison for sexting with a minor?
Yes, you can. But that doesn’t have to happen in your case.