Maine Sexting Laws

Maine does not have specific laws OR protections in place related to sexting. This does not necessarily mean that all sexting is legal, it means that there are no state-mandated protections for teens that sext. Teens may face harsher federal punishments and adults may also face felony charges for the creation/distribution of child porn.

Maine sexting laws summary

Without sexting laws, teens in Maine accused of disseminating photos depicting a minor face the same laws as adults. That means incarceration and registration into the state’s sex offender registry if the facts presented -fit the bill. Why? State and federal law classify the creation and distribution of indecent photos of minors as child pornography. Child pornography is a state and federal crime. Often, accused individuals face federal charges if the activity happens interstate. For example, a teen receiving indecent pictures from a teen in another state may result in federal charges under the Federal  Juvenile Delinquency Act.

What makes sexting a crime in Maine?

Maine child pornography laws do not distinguish adults from juvenile offenses. Consequently, anyone accused of creating child pornography will face a prison sentence and registration into the state sex offender registry. The sending teen is guilty of creating child porn, whereas the receiving teen is guilty of possession if he or she does not delete the image right away or report it to the appropriate authority (parents, school, or law enforcement). If the teen solicited, persuaded, or enticed the sending, or if the receiver shares a sexually explicit photo of a minor with another person, or a person outside the relationship, then the charges escalate to possession and distribution.

Maine revised statute 282 “sexual exploitation of a minor,” states that an individual is guilty of sexually exploiting a minor if the person knowingly or intentionally entices, employs, solicits, or uses another person to persuade a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct.

Sexually explicit conduct as defined by the statute is an act of a sexual nature including masturbation, bestiality, lewd exhibition of human genitals, or any act or conduct that creates the appearance of the mentioned acts or exhibits portions of the pubic area, anus, or genitals.

Therefore, in Maine, it is illegal to:

  • Consent or allow a minor to engage in a sexual act with the intention to photograph the conduct. An apparent or caregiver who permits a minor to engage in sexual conduct is guilty of a class B crime.
  • It is also illegal to persuade, entice, compel or solicit a child to engage in sexual conduct.
  • If the child depicted is below twelve years of age, the crime escalates into a class A crime.
  • Anyone who has prior convictions and is accused of sexual exploitation of a child will face class A Charges.  
  • A parent convicted of permitting sexual exploitation or anyone found guilty for the same offense must serve a mandatory five-year sentence.
  • The minimum sentence for a repeat offender is ten years.

Apart from felony exploitation charges, teens and adults in Maine may also face felony dissemination of sexually explicit material and possession of sexually explicit materials.

Can you go to jail for sexting in Maine? Yes, if you violate child pornography laws or any of the laws below, you will go to jail. But circumstances are not uniform, so it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer as soon as possible if accused.

If you are a minor, the consequences of sexting may have lifelong effects, so avoid saying anything that may incriminate you and contact a defense attorney.

What to remember

  • Teenagers who commit felony offenses may face adult charges.
  • Anyone convicted of child porn charges must register as a sex offender.
  • Maine does not have sexting laws, thus offenders face exploitation, solicitation, and similar charges.

Maine crime classification

  • Class E crime: 180 days in jail and a $1000 fine.
  • Class D crime: up to 365 days in prison and or $2000 fine.
  • Class C (Felony):  up to 5 years in prison and or $5000 fine.
  • Class B crime (serious felony): up to ten years in prison and $10000 fine
  • Class A crime (the highest felony in Maine): mandatory minimum sentence of up to 30 years and or a $50000 fine.

Maine sexting laws and possession of sexually explicit material

A teen or adult in Maine is guilty of possession of sexually explicit material if the individual knowingly, quote,  “transports, exhibits, purchases, possesses or accesses with intent to view any book, magazine, newspaper, print, negative, slide, motion picture, computer data file, videotape or other mechanically, electronically or chemically reproduced visual image or material that the person knows or should know depicts another person engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”

The law works under the assumption that the person found in possession knew, or had reason to know that the depicted minor was below 16. If the depicted person is between fourteen and fifteen and the possessor is less than five years older than the person in the photo. Then the act does not violate the statute. But, anyone outside that age gap is guilty of a Class D crime.  repeat or subsequent offenses constitute class C crime.

Furthermore, if the child depicted is below twelve, possession becomes a class C crime which may escalate to class B if the accused has prior convictions.

Dissemination of sexually explicit material and Maine sexting laws

Dissemination of sexually explicit materials in Maine is a class B crime for a first offense and a class A crime if the person has prior convictions. In sexting cases, dissemination happens when the receiver shares the photo with a third party or posts it online.  

Maine sexting laws and Solicitation of a minor

Maine’s statute 259-A “solicitation of a child to commit a prohibited act,” says that it is unlawful for anyone to solicit a sexual act, sexual conduct, or commit sexual exploitation of a child. The law works under the assumption that the solicitor knew or should have known that the minor was less than fourteen. That means anyone, three years older than the victim, is guilty of solicitation, if he or she directly or indirectly solicits prohibited acts from an individual who is at least 16. If the solicitor is three years older than the victim, he is guilty of a Class D crime.

If the victim is less than twelve, the charges escalate to a Class C crime.

Maine sexting laws and revenge porn

Disseminating images or videos of a former partner or spouse without consent is a crime in Maine. Title sec. 1.17-A MRSA 511-A “unauthorized dissemination of certain private images makes revenge porn a Class D offense. It is also a crime to secretly film anyone who has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Chapter 21 “offenses against public order,” says an individual is guilty of violating someone else’s privacy if “(B.) Installs or uses in a private place without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy in that place, any device for observing, photographing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting sounds or events in that place; (C). Installs or uses outside a private place without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy therein, any device for hearing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting sounds originating in that place that would not ordinarily be audible or comprehensible outside that place.”

Violation of privacy is a class D crime.

Unsolicited sexts and Maine sexting laws

In Maine, a person is guilty of harassment by electronic communication device or telephone if he or she suggests, requests, or makes a proposal that is obscene or coarse without the consent of the receiver. That means sending -unsolicited sexts, emails, and so on is unlawful. If the receiver or victim of harassing texts is below fifteen, the offender is guilty of a Class D crime.

Section B of the statute outlaws unsolicited nudes, it reads, quote, “Using a telephone or electronic communication device the person sends an image or a video of a sexual act as defined in section 251, subsection 1, paragraph C or of the actor’s or another person’s genitals without the consent of the person called or contacted after the person called or contacted has notified the actor, in writing or otherwise, that the person does not consent to receive such images or videos. Violation of this paragraph is a Class E crime.”

A person is also guilty of a Class E crime if he or she uses a telephone or communication device with the intent to annoy, threaten, or harass. Furthermore, if you permit someone else to use a device under your control for harassment, you are guilty of a Class E crime.

When can you legally sext in Maine?

Considering state and federal law, 18 is the legal age for sexting. Furthermore, sexting must be consensual, if not, the person receiving the unsolicited sexts may take civil action against the offender. What is crucial to remember is that photographing, filming, or asking anyone below 18 to photograph him/herself is both a federal and state crime.

In short, Maine does not have sexting laws. Because of that, sentences for teens and adults can be severe and will have lifelong consequences. We are talking about sexual exploitation, child pornography, and solicitation charges. If you are facing such charges, contact a defense attorney immediately. If you are the victim, explain the matter to your caregivers/parents or contact the authorities. Remember, cyberbullying, stalking, harassment, and blackmail are unlawful, so do not suffer in silence.

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

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