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What Are the Penalties for Teen Sexting in Illinois?


Sexting is still a relatively new phenomenon and is particularly popular among teenagers. Essentially, it involves sending sexually suggestive texts messages that often include nude or semi-nude photos. For underage teens, this raises some legal questions that previously did not exist. After all, if they are sending nude photos to one another, they are essentially distributing child pornography. However, many young teens are unaware of the legal implications these actions might have.

Sexting Nude Photographs

Under the Illinois Child Pornography Act, if an individual films or photographs someone whom he or she knows is underage partaking in a sex act or posing unclothed or in a lewd manner that person has committed the offense of creating child pornography. This also includes selfies, or pictures a person takes of himself or herself. Therefore, if a 16-year-old took a nude or revealing selfie, that teenager has technically created child pornography. If convicted, this offense would be considered a Class 1 felony, punishable by at least four years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Teens who take their own nude selfies are not the only individuals who might end up facing criminal charges for sexting. If a 16-year-old boy asks his 16-year-old girlfriend to take a nude photo and send it to him, this is considered “indecent solicitation of a child,” which is treated as a Class 4 felony. If that teenage boy received a nude picture from his girlfriend and forwarded it to his friends, he would be engaging in an offense referred to as reproducing or disseminating child pornography. This also applies to teens who send nude photos of themselves to others.

Registering as a Sex Offender

When a person commits an offense of child pornography, he or she is considered a sex offender and will have to report and register as one. Failure to do so is a felony. For teenage sex offenders, life can become vastly more complicated since they cannot be present on school grounds or be within 5000 feet of a school building. However, given that the law allows parents who are registered sex offenders to be on school grounds under certain circumstances, it is likely that the law simply needs to catch up. For example, in Vermont, teen sexting is a matter addressed in juvenile court, sparing young offenders from being labeled as sex offenders.

Contact Our Skilled Chicago Sex Crime Defense Attorney!

If your teen is facing criminal charges for either receiving or sending a nude or semi-nude photo, you are probably already acutely aware of how serious the situation is. At the Law Office of Steven Fine in Chicago, our criminal defense attorney has a track record of success and is backed by over two decades of experience in protecting the rights and future of his clients. We handle cases involving child pornography, internet crimes, sexual assault, and more. Too much is at stake to forego obtaining the legal assistance you need.

Help your teen fight against these charges and contact us at (312) 436-0638 to schedule a complimentary consultation with our top-rated criminal defense attorney. Our team is available 24/7 to take your call.