Connecticut Sexting Laws

Is sexting a misdemeanor or felony in the constitution state?

Connecticut sexting laws say that possessing, receiving, or sending sexually explicit media depicting an individual below 16 is a felony. If the sender and recipient are between the age of 13 and 17, they may qualify for a reduced penalty.

Connecticut Sexting Laws

Quick take:

  • Sexting laws only apply if the sender is above 13. Any image or photo received from someone younger is felony possession.
  • Sending someone else’s nude photos is not sexting, it is child porn or revenge porn.
  • Teenagers who commit felony offenses may be tried in adult court.
  • If tried as an adult, the teenager may have to register in the state’s sex offender registry.
  • Sexting an adult without consent via electronic device is harassment.

Connecticut sexting laws in brief

The state of Connecticut does not have a legal definition for sexting, however, the use of a cellphone, tablet, computer, or other devices to send sexually explicit photos or videos is unlawful if you are under sixteen. Your age determines whether you will face felony or misdemeanor charges. What you must remember is if the sender is under sixteen and the recipient under eighteen, the crime is a misdemeanor.

A sexting felony occurs when an adult sends, possesses, or receives sexually explicit content depicting a minor from an underage sender or anyone else. The adult/s in this instance are guilty of felony child porn (keep reading, or skip to child porn for better clarity). Connecticut defines child porn as, quote “any visual depiction of someone less than 16 years old engaging in sexually explicit conduct.” Sexually explicit acts refer to masturbation, sexual intercourse, bestiality, sadistic abuse, or lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area. Visual depiction refers to films, videos, pictures, and computer-generated images.”

In short, Connecticut sexting laws prohibit:

  • Possession, distribution, manufacturing, and viewing of child porn.
  • It is illegal for anyone over 18 to possess a visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexual conduct.
  • Soliciting a minor via electronic device to engage in sexual activity is a crime.
  • Sexting amongst consenting adults is legal.

Summarized, CGS 53a-196h (Connecticut Sexting Law), reads, quote “(a)(1) No person who is thirteen years of age or older but under eighteen years of age may knowingly possess any visual depiction of child pornography that the subject of such visual depiction knowingly and voluntarily transmitted by means of an electronic communication device to such person and in which the subject of such visual depiction is a person thirteen years of age or older but under sixteen years of age.”

“(2) No person who is thirteen years of age or older but under sixteen years of age may knowingly and voluntarily transmit by means of an electronic communication device a visual depiction of child pornography in which such person is the subject of such visual depiction to another person who is thirteen years of age or older but under eighteen years of age.”

Who can legally sext in Connecticut?

Connecticut laws say that anyone above 16 may sext or send sexually explicit photos to anyone above the same age. But federal law prohibits the exchange of nude photos or media amongst teens. Also, it is illegal to possess or manufacture:

  • Any photo, or video, including deep fakes depicting the private areas of minors
  • Photos or videos that depict anyone under 16 engaging in sexual intercourse, masturbation, or sexual contact.

Can a teen be tried as an adult for sexting in Connecticut?

If the teen is charged with possession of fifty or more child porn photos or videos, or any other serious sexual felony, he may face charges as an adult. Facing charges as an adult also means that the teen may have to register in the state’s sex offender registry. To enter the state’s sex offender registry, the offender must be guilty of; a sexual offense in another jurisdiction, a sexually violent offense, a non-violent sexual offense, a criminal offense against a minor, or any felony committed against a minor for a sexual purpose.

Connecticut’s Megan’s law

Megan’s law dictates that the minimum registration period for a non-violent sexual offense against a minor is ten years. Under limited circumstances, registered sex offenders in Connecticut may petition for removal from the sex offender registry.

What are the consequences of sexting in Connecticut?

Depending on the facts presented, the prosecution may choose to pursue any of the following charges in a sexting case:

  • Child pornography charges: for knowingly possessing, manufacturing, or distribution of child porn via electronic device or other means.
  • Felony obscenity or voyeur charges: photos or videos taken without consent or if the victim had a reasonable expectation of privacy may warrant felony obscenity charges or voyeur charges.
  • Unruly child: if a minor sends nudes or sexually explicit content to anyone else, juvenile court may declare the sender an Unruly Child.
  • Harassment charges: unsolicited nudes, vulgar language, repeated calls, and threats via electronic device constitute harassment.

Connecticut sexting laws and child porn

The age of consent in Connecticut is sixteen, consequently, sexting amongst teenagers, sixteen years or older, is legal. However, sending or receiving sexually explicit images or videos of a minor constitutes child porn.

 Connecticut penal code section 53a-196d-f prohibits child porn in the first, second and third-degree.

First-degree child porn in Connecticut

In Connecticut, anyone who knowingly possesses fifty or more pictures, videos, and other media depicting child pornography or visual depictions of a minor that shows inflictions or threats of serious physical injuries against a minor, is guilty of first-degree possession of child porn.

First-degree child porn is a class B felony in Connecticut. The crime carries a sentence of at least five to twenty years in prison and a $15000 fine.

Second-degree possession of child pornography

The penal code defines second-degree child porn possession as “knowingly possessing twenty to fifty videos, pictures, or visual depictions of child porn”.

Second-degree child porn possession is a class C felony, punishable by two to ten years behind bars and a $10,000 fine.

Third-degree child porn in Connecticut

Knowingly possessing less than twenty photos or videos of a nude minor constitutes third-degree child Porn. It is a class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison and a $5000 fine.

What must the prosecution prove?

Affirmative defenses include (1) You took reasonable steps to destroy the photos or videos. (2) possessed fewer than three visual depictions, (3) were unaware of the content’s nature. The prosecution will have to prove that the accused possessed child porn, and knew of the possession and the number of videos or pictures.

Child porn possession is a serious crime, and on the federal level, it is considered illegal contraband.

What to remember about federal child porn laws

  • On the federal level, state age of consent does not matter, hence any nude image or video of an individual below 18 constitutes child porn.
  • Sexually suggestive visual depictions of a minor constitute child pornography.
  • It is unlawful to entice, induce, coerce, or persuade a minor verbally or via electronic device to produce child porn or engage in sexually explicit conduct.
  • If the offense occurs in a foreign country or intestate, federal authority is implicated.

CGS Harassment via electronic device and Connecticut sexting laws

Unwanted texts, nudes, and sexual advances are a common occurrence in the digital age. Adults receiving unsolicited nudes or telephone calls have the option of acting against the offender, so says 2005 Connecticut code sec. 53a-183. Harassment In the Second Degree. The code reads, quote,  “a person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when (1) By telephone, he addresses another in or uses indecent or obscene language; or (2) with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, he communicates with a person by telegraph or mail, by electronically transmitting facsimile through connection with a telephone network, by a computer network, as defined in section 53a-250, or by any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or (3)with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, he makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, in a manner likely to annoy.”

That means you may sue telemarketers or anyone else sending you annoying or harassing texts and calls.

What qualifies as phone harassment in Connecticut?

  • Unwanted behavior or lewd texts that you find offensive, humiliating, or harassing.
  • Cyberstalking and other digital forms of harassment via phone or social media

What to remember

Harassment in Connecticut may be digital, verbal, or physical. Digital harassment happens when someone intentionally threatens, harasses, uses lewd language, or makes repeated threats via text messages, and messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

What to do if you receive unwanted sexts in Connecticut

Unwanted sexts are a form of sexual harassment, it may happen at school, work, home, or anywhere else. When you receive this type of text you may ask the person to stop or take legal action if the sender persists.

What if the sender is a minor?

Delete the messages and never share any image or video received with anyone. You may report the matter to the minor’s guardian or block the sender. What will happen if you share or transfer or text the image is. You will be guilty of child porn possession and distribution.

Connecticut sexting laws and revenge porn

Enacted in 2015, C.G.S. 531-186 is Connecticut’s revenge porn law -that criminalizes the dissemination of revenge porn. In part, the statute reads, “a person is guilty of unlawful dissemination of an intimate image when (1) such person intentionally disseminates by electronic or other means a photograph, film, videotape or other recorded image of (A) the genitals, pubic area or buttocks of another person with less than a fully opaque covering of such body part, or the breast of such other person who is female with less than a fully opaque covering of any portion of such breast below the top of the nipple, or (B) another person engaged in sexual intercourse, as defined in section 53a-193, (2) such person disseminates such image without the consent of such other person, knowing that such other person understood that the image would not be so disseminated, and (3) such other person suffers harm as a result of such dissemination. For purposes of this subsection, “disseminate” means to sell, give, provide, lend, trade, mail, deliver, transfer, publish, distribute, circulate, present, exhibit, advertise, or otherwise offer.”

It is unlawful to share intimate pictures of an ex via text or any other means including social media and the internet without consent. If the photo was taken with a hidden camera or other concealed device, the person who shares or possesses the image is guilty of felony voyeurism.

Victims may take civil action against the sender or the person who posted the image online. Often, these lawsuits end with the court awarding the victim hundreds sometimes millions of dollars.

What to remember

  • Sharing or posting sexually explicit images or videos of anyone without consent is a crime in Connecticut.
  • If the victim is under sixteen, or the offender has prior convictions, the sentence is harsher.
  • Under C.G.S 531-186, up skirting and revenge porn are criminal offences.

Connecticut sexting laws and voyeuristic acts

As mentioned, in Connecticut, voyeurism is a class D or class C felony. Statute 53a-189a defines voyeurism as, “(1) without the consent or knowledge of the other person, an individual, with malice knowingly videotapes, photographs, or films the other person while the other person is not in plain view and under circumstance where such person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

What to remember

  • Knowingly photographing, filming, or otherwise recording another person with the intent to satisfy a sexual desire or arouse, without consent, or using a hidden device, is unlawful.
  • Recording anyone who has a reasonable expectation of privacy constitutes voyeurism.
  • For a first offense, voyeurism is a class D felony -if aggravating circumstances do not apply.
  • Prior convictions and repeat offenses escalate the crime to a class C felony.
  • Sharing or posting pictures or videos acquired via voyeuristic acts is a felony.
  • Under Connecticut cyberbullying laws (CGS 10-22d), bullying via mobile phone, internet, or other digital technologies is unlawful

Navigating these laws on your own is difficult, we recommend consulting with an experienced local defense attorney today.

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