In Mississippi, teens accused of sexting face prosecution under the state’s revenge porn and child pornography laws. That may mean mandatory registration into the sex offender registry. (keep reading)
- Mississippi sexting laws: summary
- When does sexting become child pornography in Mississippi?
- What is the punishment for sexting and child pornography in Mississippi?
- Mississippi sexting laws and 97-5-27 Dissemination of sexually oriented material to children; computer luring of minors to engage in sexual conduct
- Mississippi sexting laws and soliciting a minor for sex
- Teens tried as adults for sexting in Mississippi
- Mississippi sexting laws, harassment, And sextortion
- Mississippi sexting laws and harassment
- Mississippi sexting laws do not yet exist (we will update you when that changes).
- Teens accused of felony offences face prosecution under the state’s child pornography, or revenge porn laws.
- The punishment for juveniles who commit petty offences is a court warning, community service, court may order educational program, or probation.
- If transferred to adult court, teens offenders face adult punishment and registration into the state’s sex offender registry.
- Mississippi code section 97-5-31 “computer crimes against children”
- MS. Code ANN. (MCA) Section 45-33-23 “Registration of sex offenders”
- Senate bill No. 2121 “Revenge porn and extortion”
- 97-29-45, “obscene electronic and telecommunications”
Mississippi sexting laws: summary
Federal law defines sexting as the act of exchanging sexually explicit texts and images. The exchange is legal if the actors are consenting adults. However, non-consensual sexting, sexting between an adult and a minor, and the exchange of explicit images between teens is a violation of the state’s solicitation, harassment, and child porn laws. If the accused is a teenager, the case will go through the juvenile system. In the juvenile system, the punishment for sexting could be a warning, probation, community service, or the court may order incarceration.
Depending on the facts presented and the juvenile’s record, prosecutors may choose to pursue felony charges against the minor. Why?
Under state child pornography laws, it is unlawful to possess, create, or distribute images, videos, or other media depicting a child engaged in a sexual act. Consequently, sexting that involves the creation of nudes, sexually explicit selfies, or images that show a minor’s private parts constitutes the creation of child pornography. If the minor stores the photos on his or her phone, the crime is possession of child pornography. The crime escalates into distribution or dissemination if the sender or receiver shares the image, photo, or video with someone outside the relationship. For example, if you display or send a sexually explicit image to a friend or anyone else, you are guilty of possession and distribution of child pornography.
When does sexting become child pornography in Mississippi?
Under Mississippi code section 97-5-31, “child” refers to anyone below 18. That means any photo, video, visual depiction, or other media that features a child engaged in masturbation, bestiality, sexual intercourse, fondling, or features lascivious exhibition of the pubic area or sadistic or masochistic abuse, constitutes child pornography.
The statute outlaws:
- Enticing, persuading, seducing, soliciting, advising, coercing, or in any other way, enticing, or encouraging a minor to meet or engage in sexual conduct.
- Filming or encouraging a child to film him or herself performing a sexual act.
- Permitting, or causing a child to engage in sexual conduct.
It is also a crime to possess, send or receive child pornography with intent to distribute, transport, or transmit. Note that attempted possession, attempted distribution, and conspiracy to create and distribute child pornography are all crimes.
Also, the law allows law enforcement officers to pose as minors during their investigation, so entrapment is not a defense.
What is the punishment for sexting and child pornography in Mississippi?
A first violation of Mississippi Child Pornography Laws is a felony punishable by imprisonment between five to forty years and or a fine between $50000 and $500000. A second violation or if the accused has prior records escalates the punishment to a prison sentence between twenty to life and or a fine between $100000 and $1000000.
Mississippi sexting laws and sex offender registration
Mississippi law MS. Code ANN. (MCA) Section 45-33-23 requires adjudicated delinquents guilty of any sex offense or attempted sex offense, adults convicted of a sex offense or attempted sex offense, and anyone acquitted because of insanity to register as a sex offender.
Mississippi law also requires anyone convicted of the crimes below to register as a sex offender
- Luring or attempted luring of a child to engage in sexual conduct via a computer or other electronic device.
- Fornication or adultery between a teacher and an adult.
- Anyone convicted of filming or taking pictures where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
- Offenders convicted of dissemination of sexually oriented material to children
- The exploitation of a child.
What to remember
- State law does not require offenders below fourteen to register as sex offenders.
- Anyone convicted of a felony sex offense must register as a sex offender.
- Failure to register as a sex offender is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and or a fine of up to $5000
Mississippi sexting laws and 97-5-27 Dissemination of sexually oriented material to children; computer luring of minors to engage in sexual conduct
Under Mississippi law 97-5-27, disseminating sexually oriented material to a child is a misdemeanor, for example, if an adult sends nude photos of him-herself to a minor, that individual is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by not more than one year in county jail and a fine not less than five hundred dollars nor more than five thousand dollars.
Note that luring, attempting to, or conspiring to lure a child to engage in sexual conduct is a felony punishable by a fine not exceeding $10000 and or up to three years in the department of corrections. Remember, the law assumes that the accused knew or should have known of the content of the material.
The statute reads in part “A person is guilty of computer luring when: Knowing the character and content of any communication of sexually-oriented material, he intentionally uses any computer communication system allowing the input, output, examination or transfer of computer data or computer programs from one computer to another, to initiate or engage in such communication with a person under the age of eighteen”
What to remember:
- Inviting or inducing a minor to engage in sexual conduct via an electronic device is a felony.
- Making a reasonable effort to ascertain the real age of the minor is an affirmative defense if the minor’s actions impeded the effort.
Mississippi sexting laws and soliciting a minor for sex
Soliciting and attempted solicitation of a minor for sex via an electronic device is unlawful in Mississippi. MS code 97-5-33 prohibits using a computer or smartphone to induce, seduce, solicit, advise, or coerce a child to engage in sexual conduct.
Note that soliciting nudes from a minor, asking a minor to perform a sexual act, or ordering a minor to take sexual photos constitutes solicitation and luring a child. Furthermore, if the child takes and sends photos of herself, the person receiving the images or videos is guilty of child pornography possession and solicitation.
What that means is a single set of facts may result in multiple charges.
If the activity happens interstate, or across international borders, federal laws come into play. Under federal law child, pornography possession and soliciting a child for sex carry sentences ranging from ten years to life.
Teens tried as adults for sexting in Mississippi
Teens accused of felony child pornography or solicitation may face prosecution in adult court. If tried as an adult for child pornography-related offenses, the sentence ranges from ten years to life behind bars and a fine. Upon conviction, the teen will have to register as a sex offender and if released may have to wear an electronic monitoring device as a condition for probation. So, says MS Code 99-19-84, that reads, quote:
“Whenever probation is a part of a sentence prescribed for an offense for which registration as a sex offender is required under Title 45, Chapter 33, the court may include as a condition of probation that the sex offender is placed on electronic monitoring. The Department of Corrections shall promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation of electronic monitoring of sex offenders on probation.”
What to remember
- Mississippi’s ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Taskforce program is actively on the hunt for teens and adults who create and distribute child pornography.
- Soliciting or attempting to solicit sexual conduct or content from a child is a felony.
- Soliciting a minor to engage in sexual conduct and creating and disseminating child pornography are state and federal offenses.
- Federal law applies to solicitation and or child pornography dissemination that happens across state or international borders.
Mississippi sexting laws, harassment, And sextortion
97-3-82 states that an individual is guilty of extortion when, quote,
“A person is guilty of extortion if he purposely obtains or attempts to obtain the property of another or any reward, favor, or advantage of any kind by threatening to inflict bodily injury on any person or by committing or threatening to commit any other criminal offense, violation of the civil statute, or the public or private revelation of information not previously in the public domain for humiliating or embarrassing the other person, without regard to whether the revelation otherwise constitutes a violation of a specific statute.”
Furthermore, the state has a revenge porn law that defines and punishes revenge porn and sextortion. Senate bill No. 2121(effective from July 1st, 2021) prohibits:
- Sharing or posting any image obtained when the depicted person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
- Posting or sharing intimate photos of a former partner without consent and with intent to cause embarrassment or harm
- Sextortion and blackmail.
- Simulated sexual depictions, including photoshop images, and deep fakes.
The statute reads in part:
An individual commits an offense if:
“(a) Without the effective consent of the depicted person and with the intent to harm the depicted person, the offender discloses visual material depicting another person with the depicted person’s intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual conduct; (b) At the time of the disclosure, the offender knows or has reason to believe that the visual material was obtained by the offender or created under circumstances in which the depicted person had a reasonable expectation that the visual material would remain private”
What to remember
- A first violation is punishable by incarceration in county jail for not more than six months and or a $1000 fine.
- A second violation escalates revenge porn into a felony punishable by a fine up to $2000 and or not more than two years imprisonment.
- If anyone violates Mississippi revenge porn statute for profit, he is guilty of a felony under house bill 2121.
Mississippi sexting laws and harassment
Under 97-29-45, “obscene electronic and telecommunications,” it is unlawful to:
- Make any comment, suggestion, proposal, or request using a computer, telephone, or any electronic device that is lewd, lascivious, obscene, abusive, or threatening or harassing.
- It is also a crime to make telephone calls with intent to terrify, intimidate, or threaten physical harm.
- Allowing a computer or phone under your control to be used for harassment, intimidation, or any other violation under 97-29-45.
Note: victims of harassment may take civil action against the offender.
Navigating these laws on your own is difficult, we recommend consulting with an experienced local attorney today.
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