Missouri Sexting Laws

Quick take:

  • Nude selfies taken by a minor constitute child pornography.
  • Teens and adults convicted of felony child pornography related offenses must register as sex offenders.
  • Each photo or video may constitute a separate offense.
  • Sexting between consenting adults is legal.

Missouri felony and misdemeanour chart


Missouri sexting laws summary

Missouri is one of the states that have yet to enact sexting laws. That is bad news for teens: dissemination of nudes or inappropriate images -done by anyone below 18- constitutes child pornography. Child pornography possession, dissemination, and creation are all felonies under Missouri and federal law. Depending on the severity of the violation, teens accused of sexting may have to register as sex offenders or serve adult punishment. But, if the teen faces prosecution in juvenile court, the punishment includes probation, community service, a court warning, or the court may order the teen to complete an educational program or incarceration.

The are no specific sexting laws in Missouri. Consequently, the legal consequences of sending nudes include felony child pornography charges, solicitation of a minor, and other charges that apply.

Do nude selfies and sexts constitute child pornography in Missouri??

Yes. Under state law, selfies, or nude photos taken by an underage individual, and sexually explicit photos of a minor taken or solicited by someone else constitute possession and distribution of child pornography. For example, if an 18-year-old has a 16-year-old partner, and that older teen solicits, asks, or entices the younger teen to create and send sexually explicit images, both actors are guilty.

 (1) The sender (below 18) is guilty of the creation, and distribution of child pornography. (2) the receiver is guilty of solicitation, possession, and distribution of child pornography if he sends or displays the image to someone outside the relationship.

What if you did not solicit the images?

In such a scenario, taking reasonable steps to delete or report the image to appropriate authorities (school, parents, law enforcement) is an affirmative defence. We recommend consulting with a defence attorney near you.

When does sexting become child pornography in Missouri?

The absence of Missouri sexting laws means that prosecutors rely on Missouri child pornography laws in cases where there is the exchange of sexually explicit photos between minors, or between minors and adults. Under state statute 573.037 “Possession of Child Pornography,” any photo, video, film, picture, or other media depicting a child engaged in a sexual act or conduct constitutes child pornography.

 State law says that a child is anyone below eighteen years of age.

Consequently, anyone found in possession of any media depicting a child engaged in a sexual act is guilty of a class D felony. the crime escalates into a class B felony if an individual knowingly possesses: (1) twenty-plus still images of child pornography. (2) one motion picture, film, video, videotape, or other moving images. (3) obscene material comprising of one motion picture, video production, film, or any other moving image.

What to remember:

  • Under section 3, each photo or video of child pornography constitutes a separate offense.
  • Nude selfies taken by anyone below 18 constitute child pornography.
  • “Sexually Explicit Conduct” refers to -lewd exhibition of human genitals or pubic area, and acts, including masturbation, sexual intercourse, or physical contact with genitals.

Missouri sexting laws and sexual exploitation of a minor (creating child pornography)

573.023 “Sexual Exploitation of a Minor” states that an individual is guilty of a class B felony if that individual recklessly or knowingly films, photographs, videotapes, or in any other way creates obscene material with-or -of- a minor/ child pornography. What that means is under state law, it is illegal to direct, order, or encourage a child to create obscene material or pornography.

If the child depicted in the image, photo, film, or other media is below 14, the crime escalates into a class A felony.

Note that there are no sexting laws in Missouri to shield teenage offenders from class A and class B felony charges. Furthermore, if convicted of said felonies, the teen must register as a sex offender and serve adult punishment. A class B felony is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison whereas a class A felony is punishable by between ten to thirty years in prison.

What if sexting happens interstate?

Interstate sexting between minors that involves the exchange of nudes or sexually explicit content may result in the teens facing charges in adult court because the activity is a federal offense. If an adult solicits sex or sexual conduct from a teen in another state, that adult is guilty of violating state and federal laws. On the Federal Level, soliciting sex or sexual conduct from a minor, attempting to, and conspiring to solicit sex from a minor are punishable offenses. The sentences range from ten years to life.

Missouri sexting laws and distribution of child pornography

Anyone who distributes attempts to distribute, or conspires to distribute child pornography is guilty of a class B felony. As mentioned, if the child in the video or image is below fourteen. The crime escalates into a class A felony.

It is important to remember that anyone convicted of first-degree offenses (class A and Class B felony offenses) is ineligible for conditional release, parole, or probation for the first three years. Furthermore, under 559. 106 “Lifetime Supervision of Certain sexual offenders,” the court may order electronic monitoring or supervision by the division of probation and parole for the duration of the offender’s natural life.

Also, the court may order anyone found guilty of violating chapter 566 to wear a GPS monitor for life. Chapter 566 prohibits online solicitation of a minor (566.103), child molestation, sexual misconduct, sexual abuse, bestiality, sodomy, rape, and human trafficking.

Missouri sexting laws and online solicitation of a minor

Under 566.103 “Crime of Promoting Online Sexual Solicitation, Violation Penalty,” a person or entity is guilty of promoting online solicitation if he or she quote:

 “knowingly permits a web-based classified service owned or operated by such person or entity to be used by individuals to post advertisements promoting prostitution, enticing a child to engage in sexual conduct, or promoting sexual trafficking of a child after receiving notice under this section.”

Furthermore, under 566.153 “Age Misrepresentation with Intent to Solicit a Minor.” It is a crime for any adult to misrepresent his or her age with the intention to solicit sex or sexual conduct from a child. Age misrepresentation is a class E felony.

What to remember:

  • Promoting online solicitation of minors is a felony.
  • Soliciting a child for sex or sexual conduct using a smartphone or other device is a felony.
  • Age misrepresentation with intent to solicit sex from a child is a felony.

Missouri sexting laws and sexual misconduct

Under Missouri sexual misconduct law 566.093, it is a crime for any adult to. (1) Expose or display his or her private parts under circumstances that may insult or cause alarm. (2) Have sexual contact in front of a third person under circumstances that may alarm or cause affront. (3)  Engage in sexual conduct or deviate intercourse in public spaces.

What is vital to remember is that in 2004, the Missouri Court of Appeals in a ruling held that sending sexually explicit photos to a child constitutes exposure/sexual misconduct.  Under the statute, sexual misconduct is a class B misdemeanor for a first offense and a class A misdemeanor if the accused has prior records.

What to remember

  • Displaying or furnishing sexually explicit material/pornography to a child is a class A misdemeanor for a first offense. If the accused has prior records, the crime escalates into a Class E felony.
  • Sending nudes to a minor constitutes sexual misconduct in Missouri.
  •  A single set of facts may lead to multiple charges.

Missouri sexting laws and sex offender registration

As mentioned, teens accused of misdemeanors or petty offenses related to sexting will face prosecution in juvenile court. In Missouri, the juvenile court may order anyone convicted to:

  • Serve time in a juvenile faculty.
  • House arrest/home confinement.
  • Probation
  • Verbal warning
  • Fine
  • Electronic monitoring

What if the teen is guilty of a felony or federal offense?

Teens who commit federal offenses or felonies may face trial in adult court. If convicted in adult court, the teen must register as a sex offender and serve adult punishment.

Who must register as a sex offender in Missouri?

  • Anyone convicted of sexual misconduct.
  • Anyone found guilty of felony child exploitation or child pornography charges.

And anyone found guilty of any of the offenses listed below

  • Coercing or acceptance of obscene material from a child.
  • Furnishing pornography or sexually explicit material to a minor.
  • Promoting obscenity in the first degree.
  • Public display of obscene material.

See the full list here.

Unsolicited sexts and harassment in Missouri

Under 565.090, any act that causes emotional distress to another without good cause constitutes harassment in Missouri. For example, if someone sends you sexts, photos, or videos without consent. That person is guilty of harassment and or sexual misconduct.

The point is, under state law, if anyone causes another to suffer emotional distress in one way or the other, the person is guilty of a Class E felony/ First Degree harassment. Chapter 455, RSMo “The Missouri Adult Abuse Act, allows victims of stalking, domestic abuse, and harassment to file protective orders. The victim may also take civil action against the offender.

Missouri sexting laws, extortion, and revenge porn

State statute 573.110.  “Non-consensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images” classify revenge porn/ the dissemination of private images without consent as a class D felony. Under the statute, anyone who threatens a former spouse or partner with non-consensual posting or sharing of images is guilty of a Class E felony.

What to remember

  • Under 573.110. sextortion and revenge porn are felony offenses.
  • Victims of revenge porn may take civil action against the offender.

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

Other Missouri Laws

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