Laws Pertaining to Sexting in the State of North Dakota

In April of 2011, the Governor signed into the law a bill North Dakotathat reduces the punishment for those caught sexting to a misdemeanor. North Dakota had previously passed legislation to address sexting issues but the legislation was ruled unconstitutional by a North Dakota judge. Before the Governor signed the bill into law, in North Dakota an individual (including a minor) who was caught creating, distributing or possessing a sexually explicit image of a minor (including themselves) could have been charged under the State’s child pornography statutes. If convicted, they would have been required to have registered as a sex offender.

Legislative Summary

When the Governor signed the sexting bill into law, North Dakota made it a misdemeanor to possess, distribute or create a sexually expressive image. In general, the new law appears to apply to everyone and not just minors. If an individual is convicted under the sexting statute they will not be required to register as a sex offender. The new law is a shift from the previous state of the law, which was to charge individuals (including minors) who were caught sending or receiving explicit images of a minor with a felony under the child pornography laws. If an individual was convicted of a felony under the child pornography laws then they generally would have had to register as a sex offender.

Law and Punishment

In general, under the new law, it is a Class A misdemeanor in North Dakota if a person:

  • Without the written consent from each individual who has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the image, surreptitiously creates or willfully possesses a sexually expressive image that was surreptitiously created; or
  • Distributes or publishes, electronically or otherwise, a sexually explicit image:
    • with the intent to cause emotional harm or humiliation to any individual, depicted in the image, who has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the image, or
    • After being given notice by an individual or parent or legal guardian of the individual who is the subject of the explicit image that the individual or parent or legal guardian does not consent to the distribution or publication of the sexually explicit image.

If convicted, an offender could receive up to 1 year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

sobering reality

Charged with a Class A Misdemeanor.

Up to 1 year in jail.

Up to $1,000 fine.

Latest News Concerning Sexting in North Dakota

Breaking the sexting code for parents

WDAY | December 4, 2011

‘Sexting’ craze hits area

INFORUM | May 7, 2009

Girl cited for explicit photos

The Bismarck Tribune | February 26, 2009

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