Sexting Attorney in Michigan
The proliferation of smart phones has drastically changed the landscape of how people communicate. Now every teenager and child are armed with a portable high-resolution digital camera. This has led to an inevitable rise in teens and children sending digital images to each other of themselves in compromising situations. Sending nude or scantily clad photos using text messages or MMS between young couples has become common place for younger people. Consequently, there are new challenges for school administrators and law enforcement officers.
Text Message and MMS Crimes
The difference between a 14-year-old girl sending a photo of herself to a friend without a shirt on, and a grown adult seeking out child sexually abusive materials for sexual gratification may appear to be a drastically different situation, but until the legislature catches up with the current reality, these situations are charged as the same crime. Consequently, minors sending nude pictures of themselves can face serious felony charges of possession and production of child sexually abusive materials. Child sexually abusive material is the legal term specified by 750.145c(4) to describe child pornography.
Unfortunately, until the legislature updates the current laws to reflect the new challenges facing parents of minors, child pornography charges are exactly how prosecutors are pursuing these types of offenses against teens and children who are caught sending scantily clad pictures of themselves to each other.
If you or your son or daughter is facing charges of possession, production, or distribution of child sexually abusive materials, then you deserve a winning legal defense to get the charges reduced, dropped or dismissed. A child’s future is a precious asset, and having a serious felony for a sex crime on their record could affect their potential for future success. A felony conviction could impact important areas of life such as college admissions and employment opportunities. Consequently, our sex crimes lawyers will do everything possible to avoid having a conviction on their record.
Sexting is Considered Child Pornography
Since the legislature has not passed any updated laws to account for the increasing prevalence of sexting, the tool in the prosecutor’s arsenal that is used to combat this type of conduct are child pornography charges. Child pornography is listed in the Michigan Criminal Code under MCL 750.145c(4) as child sexually abusive materials. There are three primary charges that a prosecutor can potentially bring against a person who is accused of possessing or sending sexual photos of a person who is under 18 years of age. First, there is possession of child sexually abusive materials. Next, production of child sexually abusive materials, and finally, distribution of child sexually abusive materials. We will discuss each charge and the potential penalties as they relate to sexting.
Sexting and Possession of Child Sexually Abusive Materials
Under MCL 750145c(4), it is illegal to possess child sexually abusive material. The definition for possession is very broad and includes “seeking or accessing” child sexually abusive materials. Consequently, if someone sends or receives a nude photograph of a person who is under the age of 18, then the prosecution can show that the person possessed child sexually abusive materials. For a picture or video to be considered child sexually abusive material, it must be shown that the person depicted is under the age of 18 years of age or the person in possession did not take reasonable precautions to ensure the person was 18 years or older. Consequently, under the current laws the prosecution has a very strong case for possession of child sexually abusive materials if it can be shown that a “sexted” picture was sent or received on a person’s cell phone. Possession of child sexually abusive materials is a felony with a maximum sentence of up to four years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Sexting and Production of Child Sexually Abusive Materials
Production of child sexually abusive materials is a very serious felony in Michigan. If a conviction is entered, the maximum sentence for this felony is 20 years in prison. The courts have stated that the purpose of this law is to combat the use of children in pornographic movies and photographs, and to prohibit the production and distribution of child pornography. This creates serious complications for minors who have engaged in “sexting”, because the definitions for production of child sexually abusive material is so broad. If a person saves a copy of a nude photograph of a person who is under 18 years of age, then they are deemed to have made a “copy” under this law. Copying an image that is stored on a phone, computer, or hard drive has been construed by the courts to be the production of child sexually abusive materials. Consequently, if you or someone you know has been found to have saved a nude photograph of a person under the age of 18, then they could be charged with production of child sexually abusive materials and could face up to 20 years in prison.
Sexting and Distribution of Child Sexually Abusive Materials
This is a much more difficult charge for a prosecutor to prove in a typical sexting case. One of the necessary components is the criminal intent to distribute, and consequently the typical texting of nude photographs between young couples does not satisfy the criminal intent element. However, the definition is broad enough that a zealous prosecutor could absolutely make a case for distribution or promotion of child sexually abusive material. The two elements that are necessary under MCL 750.145c(3) are that the distribution or promotion of child sexually abusive materials occurred, and that the person had criminal intent when the distribution or promotion of the materials occurred. Consequently, it could be argued that the person sending the photograph knew they were sending a nude photograph of a person under the age of 18, and therefore, they intentionally distributed and promoted child sexually abusive materials. This is a very serious felony that could potentially land a person in prison for up to seven years with a $50,000 fine.
Contact Grabel & Associates Today for a Free Consultation
If you or someone you know is facing potential charges of possession, production, or distribution of child sexually abusive materials, then you absolutely need the best legal representation available. Grabel & Associates has been honing our skills in the area of criminal defense of sex crimes for more than 19 years. We have a track record of success, because we do our research, conduct thorough investigations, and package and present the evidence and arguments of the case in an exemplary delivery. Our main goal is to get the charges against you reduced, dropped, or dismissed with the overarching aim to keep your record free of any sex crime convictions. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to begin the process of formulating your comprehensive legal defense strategy. Contact us online or call us at 1-800-883-2138 to schedule your free consultation and get yourself moving in a positive direction.