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Bucher Law Group, LLC

Know the Law in Wisconsin Regarding Teens and “Sexting”

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Waukesha criminal defense lawyerSmartphones have affected virtually every aspect of life in today’s increasingly connected world. It is easier than ever before to snap a quick photo and send it to family members, friends, and even potential romantic interests. When the photo is sexual in nature, however, and the person in the picture is legally a minor child, the individual who took the photo—and anyone who possesses it—could face criminal prosecution. Sometimes referred to as “sexting,” exchanging explicit photos might seem like no big deal for teens today, but this behavior can lead to extremely serious charges and criminal penalties.

Naked Photos Could Lead to Severe Consequences for Teens

Under Wisconsin law, it is illegal for anyone to create sexually explicit images—including taking nude photos—of any person under the age of 18. It is also against the law to possess such images or to distribute such images to anyone else.

There is a common misconception about this law, as many Wisconsin residents assume that taking and sharing nude pictures is only against the law if one of the parties is an adult and the other is a minor child. This is not the case. The state’s laws regarding the sexual exploitation of a child prohibit the behavior by both minors and adults.

A person over the age of 18 who takes, possesses, or sends nude photos of a minor is in violation of the law. It is also illegal for a person who is under 18 to take nude selfies and send them to someone else. In addition, it is possible for the parents who allow their minor child to take or send nude photos to face prosecution as well.

No “Romeo and Juliet” Law in Wisconsin

In some states, there are exemptions built into the law that reduce or eliminate criminal prosecution for consensual sexual activity—including sexting—between teens who are relatively close in age. These statutes are sometimes called “Romeo and Juliet laws” in reference to the star-crossed teenage lovers from the famous Shakespeare play. In Wisconsin, however, there are no such exemptions or reductions. Teenagers who share nude photos of one another could both face charges of sexual exploitation of a child and/or child pornography.

The penalties associated with such charges are extremely serious. A minor who is convicted on a charge of sexual exploitation of a child could face up to 12 and a half years in prison and $25,000 in fines. An adult could face 40 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000. Possession of child pornography could lead to penalties of up to three and a half years in prison for a minor and up to 25 years for an adult.

A Waukesha Sex Crimes Lawyer Can Help

If you or your child is facing charges related to sending or possessing explicit photos on a smartphone, contact an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer at Bucher Law Group, LLC right away. We know what is at stake, and we will work hard to protect your rights and your future. Call 262-303-4916 for a free consultation today.



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