Laws Pertaining to Sexting in the Commonwealth of MA

Currently, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts any person STATEwho creates, distributes or possesses a sexually explicit image of a minor is committing a crime and is subject to prosecution under the State’s child pornography laws. The Commonwealth did try to pass strong sexting laws under the Commonwealth’s obscenity laws but such law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a federal judge subsequently ruled the law to be over broad and issued an injunction to prevent the Commonwealth from enforcing the law.

Legislative Summary

The Massachusetts legislature enacted legislation under the Commonwealth’s obscenity law that was intended to address the sexting issue. However, the law was declared to be overly broad by a federal judge. Therefore, currently in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a minor caught sexting images of other minors or images of themselves could be prosecuted under Massachusetts’ child pornography laws. In addition, anyone over the age of 18 who is caught possessing an explicit image of a minor, even if the minor voluntarily delivered it to the adult, could also be prosecuted under Massachusetts’ child pornography laws.

Law and Punishment

In general, under Massachusetts’ child pornography statute it is a felony to:

  • Entice, solicit, coerce or encourage a minor (including solicitation through sexting) to pose or be exhibited in a state of nudity for the purpose of representation or reproduction in an image. Conviction under this provision carries 10 to 20 years in prison, and a $10,000 to $50,000 fine.
  • Disseminate or distribute (e.g., forwarding a text message) material that contains the exhibition of a minor in a sexually explicit manor. Conviction under this provision carries 10 to 20 years in prison, and a $10,000 to $50,000 fine.
  • Possess an image of a minor engaged or simulating a sexually explicit act. Conviction under this provision carries up to 5 years in prison or 2.5 years in jail and a fine of $1000 to $10,000 for a first offense.
  • A conviction under the statute would require the offender to register as a sex offender.

sobering reality

Up to 20 years in jail.

Up to a $50,000 fine.

Register as a sex offender.

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