Sending Sexually Explicit Electronic Photos without Permission Is Now Illegal in Texas

A close up of wrists in handcuffs.

Technology has made electronic communication so convenient that some people have taken convenience to an entirely new level. The fact is that, on September 1, 2019, it became illegal for a person to send a sexually explicit electronic photo without having permission to do so. While consenting adults are free to send pictures of themselves back and forth, the landscape changes when the recipient of sexually explicit photos has not consented to the receipt of such images. Prior to September 1, Texas had no such law on the books (What is the age of consent in Texas?).

New Regulations

House Bill 2789 addresses the issue of sending unsolicited suggestive photos. Under this newly minted law, anyone who sends a lewd image electronically to someone who did not explicitly ask for such a photo can be found guilty of a criminal offense (Click here to learn more about sexual offenses in Texas). The crime is a Class C misdemeanor, and if convicted, the perpetrator faces a fine of up to $500. For the charges to hold, the fact pattern must include one of the following:

  • The sender sent a picture or video of himself or herself either fully exposed or engaging in a sexual act.
  • The male sender sent a picture of his covered but aroused genitalia.

The sender of said photo – to be charged with this crime – must have sent the electronic image knowingly. In other words, if he or she misdialed a number and sent a lewd picture to an unintended recipient, that sender may not be held accountable.

Consistency between Physical and Electronic Acts

The drafters of this law were concerned with the inconsistency between physical actions and electronic actions. The act of exposing oneself to a stranger in public is known as indecent exposure, but there was not a comparable charge for exposing oneself – without permission – to someone electronically. The fact is that technology makes this brand of indecent exposure extremely easy to commit, and without laws thwarting such behavior, the issue could continue to grow unchecked. Finally, Indecent exposure is, by definition, a more serious offense and is classified as a Class B misdemeanor that is punishable by jail time of up to 180 days and up to $2,000 in fines.

Laws designed to Help Keep Up

While consenting adults are allowed to send each other whatever – otherwise legal – photos of themselves they desire, sending unsolicited lewd photos is an affront that the law decided it was time to address. If you have been charged with a digital crime, you need professional legal counsel on your side.

If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense, You Need an Experienced Attorney

The law has had a difficult time keeping up with technology, and this can make your criminal defense that much more complicated. If you have been charged with a digital crime, criminal defense attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, has the experience, dedication, and skill to aggressively advocate for your rights and for your case’s most positive resolution. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at (254) 220-4225 today. We serve Bell County and throughout Texas.


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