Laws Pertaining to Sexting in the State of Tennessee

Currently, in Tennessee anyone - regardless of age - who STATEcreates, distributes or possesses an image of a minor engaged in a sexually explicit act may be prosecuted under the State’s child pornography laws and if convicted, will generally be required to register as a sex offender.

Legislative Summary

Tennessee has not created a separate statute for sexting crimes. Therefore, 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

In general, under Tennessee law it is a felony to either:

  • Knowingly posses any material of a minor engaged in a sexual act.
    • Anyone caught can be charged separately for each item found that contains a minor engaged in a sexual activity.
    • If convicted, an individual could face up to 12 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. The penalty increases if a person is caught with more than 50 items and increases again if caught with more than 100 items.
  • Knowingly promote, sell, distribute, transport, purchase or exchange material, or possess with the intent to promote, sell or distribute any material that contains a minor engaged in a sexually explicit activity.
    • Anyone caught can be charged separately for each item found that contains a minor engaged in a sexual activity.
    • If convicted, an individual could face up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The penalty increases to a possible 30 years in prison and/or $25,000 fine, if a person is caught with more than 25 items.
  • Knowingly use a minor in creating or participate in material that contains a minor engaged in a sexually explicit activity.
    • Anyone caught can be charged separately for each item found that contains a minor engaged in a sexual activity.
    • If convicted, an individual could face up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

If convicted of a felony an individual would generally be required to register as a sex offender.

sobering reality

Separate felony convictions for possession, distribution or creation.

Up to 30 years in jail for creating, 15 years for distributing and 12 for possession of child pornography.

Separate charges for each item of child pornography.

Up to $25,000 fine per charge.

Register as a sex offender.

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