Criminal Penalties for Non-Consensual Sexting

Usually, the term "sexting" refers to the consensual exchange of sexually explicit images via instant messaging. When we think of sexting as an illegal act, it typically involves a minor--either the possession of a sexually explicit image of a person under the age of 18, or when an adult exchanges obscene material with a minor.

If the sexting is non-consensual, though, it is a criminal offense even when both parties are adults aged 18 or older, as one Enid man is discovering.

Police say Kyle Allen Hill, 28, a convicted sex offender, selected a woman's phone number at random from a public records source and used that number to send her sexually explicit messages and images of his genitals. Police say Hill, who was just released from prison this year following an indecent exposure conviction, admitted that he sent the messages and images to the stranger.

The suspect was booked into the Garfield County jail on $30,000 bond. He has been charged with two counts of distributing obscene material in violation of 21 O.S. 1021 § (A)(3).

Under this section, anyone who "willfully and knowingly . . . distributes . . . any obscene material" is guilty of a felony punishable by 30 days to 10 years in prison and a fine of $5,000 to $20,000. Typically, crimes that involve minors will bring longer sentences, but a prior conviction for a sex offense will not likely be helpful in seeking leniency from a judge.

In 2008, Hill was convicted of indecent exposure in Muskogee County and sentenced to 5 years in prison, which were to run concurrently with the sentences for conviction of grand larceny and larceny from a retailer in 2006.

In addition to distribution of obscene material, there are a number of other crimes with which a person may be charged for engaging in non-consensual sexting or sexting involving a minor:

  • Possession or distribution of child pornography (read more here)
  • Lewd or indecent proposals or acts to a child under 16
  • Soliciting sexual conduct or communication with a minor by use of technology
  • Obscenity, threats, or harassment by telephone or other electronic communication

The first three charges listed all involve a minor; however, the fourth listed charged may be levied against anyone who distributes obscenity with an intent to harass another person, even if there is no one under 18 involved.

This law, in 21 O.S. § 1172, makes it a misdemeanor to make harassing, threatening, or obscene phone calls. While a first offense is a misdemeanor, repeat offenses and continued harassment elevate the charge to a felony.

Find more information on sexting and it's related charges at Phillips & Associates.

Image Credit: Pro Juventute

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