Is sending a dirty text illegal in the heart of Dixie?
It can be if certain circumstances are met, and especially if it is to or from a minor.
- Minor to minor sexting puts both parties at risk of possession and distribution of child porn charges.
- Registration into Alabama’s sex offender’s registry is permanent.
- There is no statute of limitations on crimes involving anyone below 12-year-old in Alabama.
- Convicted teens are eligible for registration on states sex offenders registry.
There are no specific sexting laws in Alabama, but there are laws that criminalize various actions involving electronic devices. For example, Alabama code title 13 A. Criminal code 13A-6-111 “Transfer of obscene materials to a minor by computer” makes it illegal to send and receive obscene materials, including computer programs from a child. If the photo, video, program, or file, in whole, or in part, depicts sadomasochistic abuse, sexual conduct, or simulated nudity, whoever sent it is guilty of transmitting obscene materials to a child.
What about revenge porn, and phone harassment? What can adults do to protect themselves from up skirting, unsolicited nudes or texts, and civil sexual harassment? Find all the answers below.
What you need to remember is the distribution of intimate images without consent is a crime in Alabama. However, there are no legal consequences of sexting if the parties involved are consenting adults.
Alabama child pornography laws
As mentioned, Alabama does not have sexting laws, consequently, teens who share nudes, dirty videos, or texts may face Alabama’s child pornography and obscenity laws. Under Alabama’s Child pornography laws, the sharing of obscene materials is illegal -be it- between minors or an adult and a minor. The penalty for committing the said offense is either one year in jail and/or a $10,000 fine or worse (keep reading).
Alabama code title 13 A. part C reads, quote “a person charged under this section shall be tried as an adult, and the record of the proceed shall not be sealed nor subject to expungement.”
What that means is if a minor is found guilty of sharing, possessing, or distributing child porn, including selfies, that individual will be tried in adult court. Named “cruel and unusual punishment for teenagers” by various NGOs,’ Alabama’s sex offenders registry requires teenagers convicted in adult court to register. Failure to register is a class C felony. Furthermore, as Alabama Code Title 13 mentions, registration is for life, thus it cannot be sealed nor expunged.
Alabama sex offender registry restrictions for minors
Once registered, the teen must obey the following restrictions:
- You cannot work, live, or volunteer within 2000 feet of a child care facility or school.
- The offender’s name, address, and photos will be displayed on the state’s sex offender website and flyers.
- You must register in person every three months and pay a ten-dollar fee.
- Registered sex offenders in the state must not loiter within 500 feet of a child care facility or school.
What risk does the offender pose to the community?
There is a general rule in Alabama that restricts convicted sex offenders from living with a minor. If the victim of the crime was below 12, the convict cannot loiter in areas where children congregate or share a household with a minor.
Alabama sexting laws: punishment for minors
- Failure to register on the state’s sex offender registry is a class C felony -punishable by up to 10 years in jail and, or a $15,000 fine.
- Possessing obscene images of a minor is a class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
- Possession and distribution of child porn with intent -is a class B felony- punishable by 2 to twenty years in prison, and or a $30,000 fine.
Note: According to Alabama law, child pornography is any material containing the depiction of a minor (under seventeen) engaged in a sexual act. It is a class B felony, meaning underage offenders are tried as adults.
Is there a statute of limitations for sexting in Alabama?
If the offense involves a victim under sixteen years of age, then the offender can be tried at any time. Hence, there is no statute of limitations.
For misdemeanor charges, state action against the accused must begin within twelve months. Also, there is no limit to when sex offenses involving a victim under 19, felonies with use of, attempted use, or threats of violence.
Alabama sexting laws: sending inappropriate text messages to a minor or adult
What happens if a minor sends an adult obscene pictures or videos?
As mentioned, possession of child porn in Alabama is a felony. The point of origin does not matter, what matters is who has the image. So, if it is on your phone, computer, or other devices, upon arrest you may be charged for possession of obscene materials. The younger the minor is, the harsher the punishment.
What if you share the photo or video?
You escalate the charges from possession to possession and distribution with intent. The punishment for that is -registration on the state’s sex offender’s registry, a fine of $10,000 or more, and or 2 to 20 years behind bars.
What if you send obscene texts to a minor?
How old are you? I ask that because in Alabama it is illegal to have sex with anyone below sixteen. Furthermore, if you are two years older than a sixteen-year-old, the law considers any sexual interaction between you and the minor as rape in the second degree. The state defines sexting as “the sending and receiving of sexually explicit images electronically. Upon conviction, adult offenders face:
- Production of obscene material is a class A felony punishable by not less than ten years, or 99 years to life.
- Possessing obscene material is a class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and a $15,000 fine.
- The offender must register in the state’s sex offender registry.
Alabama sexting laws: Unsolicited nudes
Sending unsolicited nudes in Alabama is legally harassment, that is according to Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code 13A-11-8 (b)(1), reads “ A person commits the crime of harassing communications if, with intent to harass or alarm another person, he or she does any of the following: (a ) Communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, telegraph, mail, or any other form of written or electronic communication, in a manner likely to harass or cause alarm. (b.) Makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication. (c.) Telephones another person and addresses to or about such other person any lewd or obscene words or language. Nothing in this section shall apply to legitimate business telephone communications.”
Harassment is a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in prison and or a $500 fine.
The sharing of obscene materials between consenting adults is not prohibited, but the state has a revenge porn law. What is revenge porn? Legally, revenge porn is the sharing or distribution of sexually explicit videos or pictures of individuals, say a former lover, without consent.
Alabama’s revenge porn law
In Alabama, posting/sharing nudes, or videos of someone engaged in a sexual act without consent, is a punishable offense. The law works under one assumption, that is, if the person in the image or video had a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy, then anyone who shares that image or photo is guilty.
Section 13A-6-72 “Distributing a private image with intent to harass, threaten, coerce or intimidate the person depicted” reads, quote “a person commits the crime of distributing a private image of he or she knowingly posts, emails, texts, transmits, or otherwise distributes a private image with intent to harass, threaten to coerce, or intimidate the person depicted when the depicted person has not consented to the transmission and the depicted person had a reasonable expectation of the private image.”
How Illegal is Taking an Upskirt Photo in Alabama?
Unlike some other states there is no law specifically against taking upskirt pictures in Alabama, but the court may use voyeur laws against the offender. Consequently, anyone found guilty of taking upskirt photos in Alabama -may face felony voyeur charges, and or harassment charges.
In Alabama, voyeurism is a class C felony and the punishment is anywhere from 2 to ten years behind bars and or a fine.
What to remember:
- Revenge porn or sharing of sexually explicit photos of an individual without consent is a punishable offense in Alabama.
- Consenting adults may share explicit photos and videos.
- Unsolicited nudes are a form of harassment.
- Upskirting is a class C felony.
- The younger the victim the harsher the punishment
- If convicted of revenge porn or upskirting, the judge may order registration into the state’s sex offender registry.
Can you sue someone for sexting in Alabama?
Alabama harassment laws say that the victim may sue the harassing party in civil court. Therefore, if a former lover, friend, and so on shares any explicit image of you, it is within your right to take the matter to court and sue the person for harassment, emotional distress, and seek financial compensation.
If someone is currently abusing you, download this form and report the issue to law enforcement.
Cyberbullying, cyberstalking and the legal consequences of sexting in Alabama
Under Alabama’s general stalking laws, cyberbullying and sexting are punishable offenses. Stalking may be electronic or physical harassment, threats, or creating fear in an individual. If the act is committed repeatedly, the perpetrator may face felony charges. The remedies may include:
- A restraining order
- A one to twenty-year sentence behind bars
- Community service.
Remember that cyberstalking is a Class C felony in Alabama and the punishment for it is up to 10 years in prison or a $15,000 fine. Stalking in the second degree is a class B misdemeanor punishable by not more than 6 months in prison and a $3000 fine. Aggravated stalking is a class B felony. It is punishable by up to twenty years behind bars and or a maximum fine of $30,000.
What to remember:
- The sharing of intimate images amongst teenagers/minors -puts both parties at risk of production, possession, and distribution of child porn charges.
- The judge may order a teenager/minor to register in the state’s child sex offender registry.
- Residency on Alabama’s sex offender registry is permanent even if the accused is a child.
- Alabama does not have specific sexting laws, but offenders may face voyeur, harassment, or revenge porn laws depending on the circumstances of the case.
Is sexting a crime in Alabama?
Yes and No. If the parties exchanging explicit images or videos are consenting adults, sexting is not a crime. However, minors sharing nudes, or an adult sending or receiving intimate images from a child -is a crime punishable under the state’s child porn laws.
As you can see navigating your way through Alabama’s sexting laws can be a challenge, and the punishments are harsh. For example, residency in the state’s sex offender registry is permanent. So we recommend consulting with an attorney near you. If you are the victim, contact law enforcement and do not delete the harassing texts or images.
References for further reading: Code Of Alabama 197
Whether you are defending yourself against charges, or the victim, we recommend contacting a lawyer near you.
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