Internet Sex Crime Lawyer Advocating for Clearwater Residents

Sexting Florida has changed its laws in order to address the rise in teenagers who "sext." Sexting involves the sending of nude or sexually explicit photos or other images via email, text, or another electronic device. While two consenting adults can sext without consequences, it is a criminal offense when teenagers or children do this. However, the penalties are not as harsh for sexting as they are for child pornography or many other sex crimes. Clearwater sexting defense lawyer Will Hanlon is committed to protecting the rights of accused children and teenagers in connection with these charges.


Sexting in Florida is a sex crime that can be committed by anyone under the age of 18. To establish this crime, the prosecutor will need to show beyond a reasonable doubt that your child knowingly used a computer or other electronic communication device to distribute pictures that show nudity or actions that are "harmful to minors" to another person under the age of 18.

Something that is considered harmful to minors under 847.001 includes any representation, reproduction, characterization, imitation, description, exhibition, or presentation that depicts nudity, sex acts, or sexual excitement when it mostly appeals to a morbid, shameful, or prurient interest, is patently offensive to the adult community's prevailing standards with regard to what is suitable for minors, and does not have serious literary, political, artistic, or scientific value when taken as a whole. A sexting defense attorney in the Clearwater area can help determine how this standard is likely to apply to a certain situation.

You could also be charged with sexting if you are a minor who received or possessed a sexually explicit or nude picture transmitted by someone else who is under age 18. However, you cannot be convicted if you did not solicit the picture, did not transmit or send it to other people, and took reasonable steps to report that you received it to your guardian, a school official, or a law enforcement officer.

Under Florida Statutes section 847.0141, a first sexting offense is charged as a noncriminal violation. Your child needs to sign and accept a citation that indicates that they promise to appear in juvenile court. However, instead of appearing in court, within 30 days of receiving the citation, a child can complete eight hours of community service, pay $60, or participate in a cyber-safety program if the program is available. When a child contests a citation, and the court decides that it was a noncriminal violation, the child will still need to perform community service, pay $60, or participate in a cyber-safety program. Sometimes the court orders a combination of these. When a minor does not comply with the citation, there is a waiver of the right to contest it.

After the first offense, a minor can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor for a sexting violation. After a second offense of sexting, a minor can be convicted of a third-degree felony, which is punishable by a maximum of five years’ imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. A Clearwater sexting defense attorney can help you try to avert these harsh penalties.

Even though there is a separate sexting law, some parents might be surprised to realize that the sexting law does not prevent a child from being charged with child pornography. A minor can be prosecuted for child pornography when a photo or video shows nudity as well as sexual excitement and sexual actions. A minor can also be charged with stalking under section 784.048 when sexually explicit photographs are sent repeatedly.

Adults cannot be charged with sexting. This means that anybody who is over the age of 18 who sends sexually explicit images of nude minors, even for a first offense, could be convicted of child pornography, which is a third-degree felony. For example, if you are 18, but your girlfriend is underage, and you send her sexually explicit images of underage people, you could be charged with a child pornography offense.

Consult an Experienced Sexting Defense Lawyer in Clearwater

Your child's future is important to you. Their situation is unique, and there may be varying defense strategies that may be appropriate. If your child is accused of sexting in Clearwater, it can be helpful to retain an attorney during the investigation phase. Our founder, Clearwater criminal defense attorney Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994. We are dedicated to guarding the rights of the accused. Call Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or submit our online form.