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New Hampshire Sexting Laws

New Hampshire does not have a specific law on sexting. Instead, the state has child pornography laws, harassment laws, and solicitation laws -all of which- prosecutors may use to charge anyone who contacts a minor using an electronic device.

Quick take:

  • Teens accused of creating and disseminating child pornography may face charges in adult court.
  • Anyone convicted of child pornography related charges, solicitation, or indecent exposure must register as a sex offender.
  • Sexting becomes a crime if there is the exchange of media depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct.

New Hampshire sexting laws summary

Regardless of age (minor or adult), sending or receiving sexually explicit images, files, or videos depicting a child in a state of nudity or engaged in a sexual act is unlawful. The absence of sexting laws means that teens who send sexually explicit content to other teens may face child pornography charges upon arrest. If an adult sends nudes or sexually suggestive content to a minor, that adult is guilty of Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Images or Obscenity.

It is crucial to remember that a single set of facts may result in multiple charges. Also, each photo or video may constitute a separate offense. Furthermore, sexting between consenting adults is legal; what is not legal is the exchange of child pornography. What is child pornography in New Hampshire?

Legally, pornography refers to any content that depicts sexually explicit conduct. Under New Hampshire statute 649-A:2, sexually explicit conduct refers to masturbation, touching of private parts, lewd exhibition of the genitals, sexual intercourse, bestiality, lewd exhibition of the buttocks, flagellation, torture, sodomy, or bondage. Note, the definition applies to both simulated and actual acts, meaning photoshop images and deep fakes depicting a child engaged in any of the acts described constitutes child pornography.

When does sexting become child pornography?

Sexting is the exchange of sexually explicit texts, pictures, videos, or other media. For the act to be legal, the exchange must be consensual, and both the sender and receiver must be above 18. The age of consent in New Hampshire is 16, but sixteen-year-olds do not have the authority to consent to be the subject of sexually explicit images. That means any nude or sexually explicit photo or video of a child below 18 is legally child pornography.

Under section 649-A:5, “Justifiable Dissemination,” child pornography refers to any content of a sexual nature that lacks scientific, medical, or educational value.

What happens if a minor sends you nudes?

If you did not request, solicit, or encourage the minor in any way to send the photos. We recommend taking reasonable steps to delete or destroy the images or report the activity to the relevant authority. Remember, soliciting a minor for sexual conduct or content and receiving sexual content from a minor are separate offenses and can be charged as such.

What is the punishment for sexting in New Hampshire?

If both the sender and receiver are below 18 and the age difference between them is not more than five years, the case will go through the juvenile system. This is because the Juvenile Delinquent Act recommends that the juvenile should be tried in juvenile court whenever possible. But there are circumstances under which the teen may face trial as an adult; for example, if a teenager commits a federal crime or a crime that would fall under the category of a felony if committed by an adult, prosecutors may request to transfer the case to adult court.

In adult court, the teen will face adult punishment, including incarceration, and may have to register as a sex offender.

Under RSA 649-A: 3, “Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Images” is a class A felony punishable by up to twenty years in prison. What constitutes possession of child pornography?

Under the statute, it is unlawful to create, procure (in any way) any visual representation of a child engaged in a sexual act. The statute provides three affirmative defenses. (1) The accused took reasonable steps to delete or destroy the images. (2) The accused reported the images or videos to law enforcement, caregivers, or school. (3) The accused possessed less than three images.

RSA 649-A:3-a through 649-1:7: what you need to remember

  • Possession of child pornography is a class A felony in New Hampshire (first offense).
  • If the accused has less than three images, he is guilty of a class B felony.
  • The minimum sentence for distribution of child pornography is one and a half years and the maximum thirty years.
  • The maximum sentence for manufacture of sexual abuse images is life in prison.

New Hampshire sexting laws and enticing a minor via an electronic device

Section 649-B:4 “Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention.” Explicitly states that it is unlawful to use a computer or other device, internet service, or local bulletin board to solicit, lure, seduce or entice a child to (1) commit any offense related to sexual assault. (2) participate in lewdness or indecent exposure. (3) any activity that endangers a child.

Any violation of this statute is a class A felony for a first offense if the child is below 13. If the child is above sixteen, the accused is guilty of a class B felony.

For a first offense, the punishment is a minimum sentence of ten years and a maximum of twenty. If the accused has prior records, the maximum sentence changes to thirty years. That means a judge will pick a number between ten to thirty years.

Remember, state law allows law enforcement agents to pose as minors during investigations. So, entrapment is not a defense.

Adult court or juvenile court?

In New Hampshire, any child or teenager that commits a felony may face charges in adult court. That may happen in two ways; one is Discretionary Judicial Waiver. If a child commits a felony, for example, production and dissemination of child pornography or solicitation of child pornography from anyone younger than thirteen years. Two, a Presumptive Judicial Waiver that applies to fifteen-year-olds who commit specific offenses.

It is worth mentioning that the juvenile system aims to rehabilitate. So, a teen accused of a less serious crime or a first-time offense may receive a court warning. The court may also order incarceration in a juvenile facility, supervision, community service, probation, or other rehabilitation programs.

Child pornography possession and distribution is a severe felony, so we recommend that you consult with a defense attorney immediately.

New Hampshire sexting laws and sex offender registration

Anyone convicted of child pornography, solicitation of a minor, indecent exposure, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, or invasion of privacy using a recording device -must register as a sex offender in New Hampshire. Failure to register is a punishable offense.

What about teen offenders?

Once an adult, always an adult. What that means is if a teen faces prosecution in adult court, he or she must register as a sex offender for the ordered duration. Registration could be anywhere from ten years to life, depending on the nature of the crime committed.

New Hampshire sexting laws, unsolicited sexts, and harassment

Non-consensual sexting or phone sex constitutes harassment in New Hampshire. Under RSA 644:4. It is unlawful to send a message or call an individual with the intent to threaten, alarm, abuse, or annoy.

The statute prohibits:

  • Making telephone calls or sending messages with no legitimate purpose. It is also unlawful to hide caller ID.
  • Making repeated calls at extremely inconvenient hours.
  • Use of offensive or coarse language with the intent to threaten or annoy.
  • Taunt, challenge or insult the receiver in a manner that may cause a violent reaction.
  • Threaten to kidnap or cause physical harm via an electronic device.

If you are a victim of harassing phone calls, you may seek protective orders or take civil action against the offender.

New Hampshire sexting laws and non-consensual dissemination of sexual images

RSA 644:9-1-a is new Hampshire’s revenge porn law. The statute prohibits the sharing of intimate images without consent. Remember, teens do not have the authority to consent to the creation of pornography, meaning anyone who disseminates private images of a teen is guilty of felony child pornography possession and distribution.

Non-consensual Dissemination of Sexual Images addresses adult crimes, including unlawful surveillance, cyberstalking, sextortion, hacking, and the sharing of images or videos obtained under circumstances where the person depicted had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

644:9-a what to remember

  • Non-consensual dissemination of private images is a class B felony.
  • The law works under the assumption that the accused knew or should have known that the person depicted had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
  • Any property used in the facilitation of or in the committing of non-consensual dissemination is subject to state forfeiture.

References

Other New Hampshire Laws

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