Laws Pertaining to Sexting in the State of Hawaii

Currently, the State of Hawaii can prosecute individuals Hawaii- regardless of age - who create, distribute or possess an image of a minor engaged in a sexually explicit act under the State’s child pornography laws. However, the Hawaii State Legislature has recently proposed legislation that would make sexting between minors a misdemeanor crime but a felony if one of the individuals caught sexting was an adult.

Legislative Summary

The proposed bill in Hawaii would apply to sexting between minors and would create a new misdemeanor offense if a minor is caught sending or receiving sexually explicit images of a minor. The law would not apply to an adult who exchanged sexually explicit images with a minor. However, until the proposed bill becomes law, a minor who is caught creating, distributing, or possessing a sexually explicit image of another minor could be charged under the State’s child pornography statutes. If the minor is convicted of a felony they will generally be required to register as a sex offender.

Law and Punishment

Recently both houses of the Hawaii State Legislature have introduced bills that would:

  • Make it a misdemeanor offense if a minor was caught sending a sexually explicit image of themselves to another minor provided that the image was voluntarily made; and
  • Permit anyone who receives a sexually explicit image of a minor and takes reasonable steps to destroy the image as soon as possible to not be charged under the statute.
  • If a minor is convicted under the statute it will be possible to have the record expunged when the minor turns 18 years of age.

Until the proposed legislation becomes law, anyone, including minors, who are caught creating, distributing or possessing any image of a minor engaged in a sexual activity can be charged with a felony under the State’s pornography laws. Under the law, if an individual is convicted of creating child pornography they could receive a life sentence in jail, if convicted of distributing child pornography such individual could receive up to 20 years in jail, and if convicted of possession of child pornography, such individual could receive up to 5 years in jail.

sobering reality

Charged with a felony.

Up to 12 year for production.

Up to 18 months for possession (for first offense).

Latest News Concerning Sexting in Hawaii

Ahuimanu man pleads not guilty to sexting minor

Star Advertiser | June 20, 2011

The dark side of sexting.

Star Advertiser | June 12, 2011

Let's talk about sexting, dangers for teens

Hawaii News Now | May 25, 2011

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