Sexually Explicit Images: The Dangers of Cell Phones

Today’s teens have lived with the internet their entire lives. As middle-schoolers and, sometimes, those in elementary school receive their first cell phone, some of the first apps they download are Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and other social media platforms. 

With the advent of these online messaging services, there are now more opportunities for adult sexual predators to harass and abuse minors. South Carolina, like other states, have laws that are meant to target these predators, but there is a potential for teenagers participating in sexting to also be prosecuted under state law. This blog will take a look at some ways that people – even teens – might face criminal charges as the result of sending sexually explicit images and videos to minors.

Existing Law

When it comes to child pornography (visual depictions of anyone younger than 18 involved in sexually explicit conduct), there are three tiers of charges that can be levied against someone. They are:

  • Production of child pornography (First Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor)
  • Dissemination of child pornography (Second Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor)
  • Possession of child pornography (Third Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor)

All of the above charges are felonies. There is not currently a revenge porn law in South Carolina, but there are many other laws that can result in teens facing charges for sexting besides sexual exploitation of a minor. These include unlawful communication and disseminating obscene materials. 

Situations in Which Teens May Be Charged

By and large, teens are no more motivated to engage in sexual activity than those of generations past. The difference these days is that electronic records are never truly deleted. As a result of these electronic records, it is easier for victims to provide evidence to police and assist in investigations of child pornography. 

While laws against child pornography are largely effective at keeping children safe from exploitation, there is a potential for vindictive people to pursue charges against minors for having or sending sexually explicit images of themselves or other minors. Teens might not think sexting or sending intimate images of their significant others to their friends is a big deal, but there is always a potential for that assumption to be shattered. 


Teenagers have a menu of options at their disposal if they want to send sexually explicit images to other people. Apart from text messages, there are Snapchats, WhatsApp messages, and so many other mediums. The danger here is that, under a strict reading of South Carolina law, this is a crime. 

Cate & Brough, P.A. understands these situations and can help provide a strong defense for you or your minor child in juvenile court. To receive a free consultation today, call us at 864-585-4226.

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Cate & Brough, P.A.

At Cate & Brough, we all have personal experience with family law and family court. We know more than just what the law says about your issue – we know what you are going through.

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