Betty Wang, JD
Sexting may seem like a fake word, but it is a phenomenon that can lead to actual criminal consequences. Take Hales Franciscan High School, where allegations of sexting has lead to a criminal investigation, Chicago’s WBBM-TV reports.
Police were called to the school on a weekend where, based on conversations with students, a school official claims that sexual explicit images of a female were circulating via text. Police are awaiting more details to determine whether any criminal offense has occurred.
Is sexting actually illegal or not?
What is Sexting?
Sexting, “sex texting,” or “sexual texting” generally refers to any nude images, sexual images, or suggestive statements sent via text messaging from one’s phone or computer.
Because sexting has risen with the advent of smartphones, most laws don’t specifically address the term “sexting.” However, the act may lead to dire legal consequences, including criminal charges.
Sexting in Illinois
In Illinois, sexting can lead to child pornography charges. An adult can be found guilty of a felony when an adult films, videotapes, photographs or otherwise depicts images of a minor in a sexual act.
While sexting can lead to child pornography charges for adults, it may be more of a gray area for enforcing the law against minors who commit the act. Hales Francisco president Jeffrey Gray acknowledged that, “we did not think it was a criminal act” because he was “dealing with minors,” reports WBBM.
Minors or not, for those who distributed the texts, Illinois’ child pornography statute has no exception for those who take nude, sexual, or lewd pictures of oneself. If the girl in the notorious sexting photos at Hales Franciscan is underage and took the photos herself, she could also be facing criminal charges.
In a possibly related note, Gales Francisco recently went co-ed this year.
- Illinois Child Pornography Laws (FindLaw)
- Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyers, Attorneys and Law Firms – Illinois (FindLaw)
- Sexting – Texting For Trouble (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
- Court Weighs Teen Sexting and Child Pornography Charges (FindLaw’s Blotter)
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Is Sexting Photos in School Illegal?