Laws Pertaining to Sexting in the State of Texas

As of September 1, 2011, a minor caught sexting in Texas Texascan be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if a minor is caught, the minor and one of his or her parents will be required to take a State sponsored sexting education class. Under the bill the minor’s conviction can be expunged upon the minor turning 18. Until September 1st, under Texas law a minor who is caught creating, distributing or possessing a sexually explicit image of a minor (including an image of themselves) could be charged under the State’s child pornography statutes.

Legislative Summary

The new law that will take effect on September 1, 2011 makes sexting between a minors a misdemeanor crime rather than having the crime brought under the child pornography statutes which could result in a felony offense. Under the new law, minors (and one of their parents) who are caught sexting would be required to take a State sponsored educational class on the dangers of sexting. In addition, the bill provides of the following:

  • Misdemeanor offense for the first offense, and repeat offenders would also be charged with a misdemeanor but a more severe sentence, including jail time, would be available, if convicted.
  • Ability to have their offense expunged upon turning 18.
  • No requirement to register as a sex offender.

Law and Punishment

Until the proposed bill becomes law, and even after the new law becomes effective, for those teens that are not considered minors under the law, sexting could still be charged under the child pornography statutes in Texas. In general, under Texas child pornography laws it is a felony to:

  • Knowingly employ, authorize, or induce a child younger than 18 years of age to engage in sexual conduct or a sexual performance.
    • If convicted could face up to 20 years in jail and fines. If the minor used in the performance is under 14 then the individual could face life in prison.
  • Knowingly produce, direct, or promote a performance that includes sexual conduct by a child younger than 18 years of age.
    • If convicted could face up to 10 years in jail and fines. If the minor used in the performance is under 14 then the individual could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine.
  • Knowingly or intentionally possess visual material that visually depicts a child younger than 18 years of age (at the time the image of the child was made) who is engaging in sexual conduct and the person knows that the material depicts such child.
    • If convicted could face up to 10 years in jail and fines.

sobering reality

A misdemeanor crime for minors under 18

Up to 20 years in jail if charged under the child pornography statute

Fines

Parents may be held liable

Latest News Concerning Sexting in Texas

Study: Nearly 30 percent of teens are sexting

Galveston Daily News | June 30, 2012

Police Arrest Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Teacher

CBS Dallas/Ft. Worth | May 30, 2012

Sanger man gets 14-year sentence for 'sexting' teen girl

Lubbock Avalanche Journal | May 25, 2012

Students busted in sexting scandal

KSaT.com | May 10, 2012

Teacher sentenced for 'sexting' teen

KSAT.com | April 2, 2012

Teen: Students post nude pics of exes on Facebook

WFAA Dallas/FT. Worth | March 27, 2012

Man accused of 'sexting' 12-year-old

KXAN | February 29, 2012

Sexting to teen leads to charges for man

Houston Chronical | February 13, 2012

Brenham man indicted for allegedly sexting 15-year-old

Brenham Banner-Press | January 25, 2012

22 year old accused of sexting 11 year old

KENS 5 | December 13, 2011

Rangers eye allegations of sexting by teacher

Amarillo.com | December 4, 2011

Sexting case leads to jail

My San Antonio | November 16, 2011

Church youth leader accused of sexting young girl

San Antonio Express-News | June 23, 2011

Governor signs sexting bill

CBS 7 News | June 21, 2011

Sexting Bill Heads to Governor Perry's Desk

CBS 7 Austin | May 26, 2011

Round Rock students caught sexting

KXAN NBC Austin | May 16, 2011

Police investigate teen sexting case

KXAN | March 23, 2011

Who is a sex offender?

The Ranger | March 7, 2011

Houston schools outlaw sexting.

BREITBART | August 25, 2010

Former police officer accused of sexting with a 16 year old girl.

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal | April 23, 2010

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