Iowa does not currently have specific laws against sexting, but this doesn’t mean that it is completely legal. There are still federal laws and more.
- Sexting amongst consenting adults is legal in Iowa.
- Sexting teens may face felony or misdemeanor charges if there is exchange of sexually explicit material depicting a minor.
- Iowa Revenge porn law applies to teens and adults.
- Iowa sexting laws summary
- Iowa sexting laws and chapter 728 “obscenity”
- Section 709 lascivious conduct with a minor
- Iowa sexting laws and solicitation of a minor
- Iowa sexting laws, unsolicited nudes, cyberstalking and sexts
Iowa sexting laws summary
The absence of sexting statutes in Iowa does not mean that the sending and receiving of lewd text and sexually explicit pictures goes unpunished. It means that teens accused of the vice may potentially face child pornography charges, sexual exploitation charges, revenge porn charges, solicitation of a minor via an electronic device, or similar law.
Iowa’s revenge porn law is not for adults only. Title section 708.7 “harassment of invasion of privacy.” Reads, quote
“A person commits harassment in the first degree when, with intent to intimidate, annoy, or alarm another person, the person disseminates, publishes, distributes, posts or causes dissemination, publishing, distributing, or posting of: a photograph or film showing another person in a state of full or partial nudity or engage in a sex act, knowing the other person has not consented to the dissemination publication, distribution, or posting”
Under state law, harassment in the first degree is an aggravated misdemeanor. The punishment for an aggravated misdemeanor is up to two years in prison and a fine between six hundred and twenty five dollars and six thousand two hundred and fifty dollars.
What you need to remember
- Iowa revenge porn laws prohibit teenagers from sending and receiving sexually explicit images.
- Forwarding a sexually explicit image sent by a minor may escalate into possession and distribution of child pornography.
- Anyone who sends, receives, or spreads obscene materials to minors in Iowa is guilty of sexual exploitation.
- The sending and receiving of obscene materials by minors is a class C or class D felony.
- If found guilty of sexting explicit or obscene materials depicting a minor engaged in a sexual act/nude, the accused must register into the state’s sex offender registry.
Iowa sexting laws and chapter 728 “obscenity”
State law defines “obscene material” as any image, picture, video, or other media/material depicting or describing genitals, sex acts, masturbation, and quote:
“excretory functions or sadomasochistic abuse which the average person, taking the material as a whole and applying contemporary community standards with respect to what is suitable material for minors, would find appeals to the prurient interest and is patently offensive; and the material, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, scientific, political or artistic value.”
The law prohibits:
- Public indecent exposure in some places.
- Rental or sale of hardcore pornography.
- Admitting minors to places where obscene materials are exhibited.’
- The sharing obscene materials with minors.
- Senate file 460 prohibits parents from showing obscene materials to a child.
Iowa sexting laws and sexual exploitation of a minor
As mentioned, state law explicitly states that anyone who sends obscene materials to a minor in Iowa is guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor. Statute 728.12 “Sexual exploitation of a minor” reads in part “It shall be unlawful to employ, use, persuade, induce, entice, coerce, solicit, knowingly permit, or otherwise cause or attempt to cause a minor to engage in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of a prohibited sexual act. A person must know, or have reason to know, or intend that the act or simulated act may be photographed, filmed, or otherwise preserved in a visual depiction.. Notwithstanding section 902.9, the court may assess a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars for each offense under this subsection in addition to imposing any other authorized sentence.”
Anyone found guilty of exploiting a minor, be it a minor or adult, will face Class C felony charges. The charges may escalate if the offender has a record or depending on the facts presented.
What to remember
- Any material depicting a live performance of a minor engaged in a sexual act constitutes a class D felony. That means the law prohibits video calls of a sexual nature if anyone involved is underage.
- Purchasing and possessing a visual depiction of a minor engaged in a sexual act is an aggravated misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class D felony for a second offense.
- The charges escalate if the accused has a prior conviction, differed judgment, or the equivalent of a differed judgment in another jurisdiction.
Iowa sexting laws and child pornography 728.12
Depending on the facts presented, teens and adults in Iowa may face child pornography charges in federal or state court. State law prohibits the creation, possession, and distribution of child porn. That makes it unlawful to knowingly send, receive, possess, purchase, or promote child pornography. Furthermore, possession and creation of material that depicts a minor engaged in a sexual act, including deep fakes and photoshop, is prohibited.
As mentioned, the punishment for a first offense is aggravated misdemeanor charges. The offender will also have to register annually as a Tier 1 sex offender for fifteen years.
For a second offense, the crime escalates into a class D felony. A class D felony carries a five-year sentence and a $7500 fine.
Under Iowa child pornography laws, it is illegal to:
- Knowingly possess or purchase child pornography (aggravated misdemeanor).
- Knowingly promote child pornography (a class D felony).
- Persuading, enticing, inducing, soliciting, permitting, or attempt to cause a minor to engage in a prohibited sexual act (a class C felony).
Anyone found guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor or Class C or D felony offenses must register as a sex offender.
Section 709 lascivious conduct with a minor
This statute makes it a crime for care givers, parents or anyonewho is in a position of authority over a minor to quote;
“force, persuade, or coerce that minor, with or without consent, to disrobe or partially disrobe for the purpose of arousing or satisfying the sexual desires of either of them. b. anyone who violates this subsection is guilty of a serious misdemeanor.”
In Iowa, a serious misdemeanor is punishable by a fine between $315 and $1875 and up to one year of incarceration. If an adult, or a person with authority over a minor, solicits a minor to engage in a sexual act, solicits a person to arrange a sex act with a minor, permits or causes the minor to fondle or touch the person’s genitals, the offender is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.
Iowa sexting laws and solicitation of a minor
According to Iowa code 710.10 “Enticing a Minor.” a person commits a class C felony, if, quote;
“without authority and with the intent to commit sexual abuse or sexual exploitation upon a minor under the age of thirteen, the person entices or attempts to entice a person reasonably believed to be under the age of thirteen.”
Furthermore, knowingly soliciting sex, or attempting to solicit sex from a minor under sixteen is a class D felony.
What to remember
- Soliciting a minor for sex who is below thirteen years of age is a class C felony.
- Soliciting sex from anyone below sixteen is a class D felony
- Enticing a minor to perform a sexual act is an aggravated misdemeanor.
- Enticing and attempting to entice a minor is a misdemeanor.
A class C felony is punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $50000 fine for each count.
710.10 (7) says that Methods of enticement include but are not limited to personal contact and communication by any means, including
- Through the mail,
- Telephone, internet,
- Any social media platform
- Text messages,
- Instant messages,
- Electronic mail.
Iowa sexting laws, unsolicited nudes, cyberstalking and sexts
Under code 708.7 harassment, quote:
“A person commits harassment when, with intent to intimidate, annoy, or alarm another person, the person does any of the following: (1) Communicates with another by telephone, telegraph, writing, or via electronic communication without legitimate purpose and in a manner likely to cause the other person annoyance or harm.”
That means if you are receiving harassing sexts, you may take civil action against the offender.
Depending on the circumstances, the offender may also face state and federal stalking charges. Harassment escalates into stalking if the offender purposefully repeats behavior that makes the victim feel fear, fright, terror, intimidated, or threatened. If the person sending you threats or unwanted sexts that are threatening in nature is in another state, the crime becomes a federal offense.
For a first offense, stalking is an aggravated misdemeanor in Iowa. A repeat offender or anyone who violates a protective order will face class D felony charges.
Overall, sexting between consenting adults is legal in Iowa. What is illegal is sending sexts to a minor, and minor to minor sexting that involves the exchange of sexually explicit photos, videos, or other media.
Navigating these laws on your own is difficult, we recommend consulting with an experienced local defense attorney today.
Other Iowa Laws