In today’s digital age, people can privately send nude or explicit photos and/or videos to each other through electronic means. Generally, this act, which is referred to as sexting, is legal between two consenting adults. But what happens when someone sends a message containing suggestive images to someone who did not ask for it?
Currently, Texas does not have a specific statute that prohibits unsolicited sexts. However, that will soon change when House Bill 2789 goes into effect on September 1, 2019. The measure was passed by the Texas House of Representatives in April of 2019 and signed by Governor Greg Abbott on June 10, 2019.
Under the new law, sending lewd photos to an adult who did not ask for them will be a criminal offense. Violators could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $500.
Prohibited Acts Under the New Legislation
The new law makes it illegal to use electronic media to send sexually explicit visual materials to others.
Specifically, a person could violate this law if they, without being asked to do so:
- Send a picture or video depicting them engaged in sexual conduct or showing their exposed genitals; or
- If the sender is a male, sending a picture of his covered genitals in an aroused state
To be charged with this crime, the sender must have knowingly transmitted an explicit image. That means if they mistyped a number and sent the material to an unintended recipient, they might not be guilty the offense.
Maintaining Consistency with Law Concerning Physical and Digital Actions
Lawmakers likened sending unrequested nude photos and other explicit images through email, text, and/or social media platforms to exposing oneself in public to strangers, which is referred to as indecent exposure. This offense is a Class B misdemeanor and is punished by up to 180 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
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