Sexting is the shortened term for sex texting and involves sending sexually explicit messages or photos by text message or other electronic messaging system. Although sending sexually explicit messages or photos is generally legal between consenting adults (retransmitting them to others is not) it is a crime for adults or minors (under the age of 18, for example) to send indecent visual depictions (photos, videos, images) of themselves or others to minors. And it is a crime for minors to send indecent visual depictions of themselves to adults or to other minors.
These laws vary from state to state and violations may be prosecuted under statutes regarding the sending of obscene material to seduce a minor; distribution of harmful materials to a minor; distributing or displaying harmful or prurient material to a minor; child pornography laws; cyberstalking; revenge pornography; and harassment. Such laws may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the state and the specific circumstances of the alleged violation. Violations of these laws have serious consequences for adults and for minors, including potential jail or prison time and required registration as a sex offender.
Criminal offenses related to sexting are generally located in a state’s statutes—often in the penal or criminal code.