Just Don’t Do It! – Sex Text Needs a Warning! ©

I have been practicing law for many years in Metropolitan Atlanta and have come to learn of people who have gotten arrested for violating the state and federal laws in a number of ways.  Many crimes are committed by persons who are intending on doing wrong.  Then there are some who just don’t know the law and make a wrong decision that could lead to their arrest.  Sadly the consequences of an arrest and conviction could affect you for the rest of your life. This week, I give you my interpretation of another law of our state and how it is enforced. If it’s a violation of a law then my advice is simple, Just Don’t Do It!

These days everyone has a cell phone, some fancier than others. Most modern cell phones offer the popular text messaging feature that allows you to share one or more photographs with anyone with a cell phone number.  Many of these new cell phones will allow you to send a photograph to everyone in your phone book in a matter of seconds.  What a way to share photos of those special moments.  The kinds of photographs that we send unsolicited to people can cause you problems with the law.  As with most other parts of our lives, sex and pornography have made their way to the cellular communications.  The explicit photographs of nude women and men are shared around the world using today’s texting technology.  If by chance you come across an explicit photo of a nude woman or a man that you want to share with others you had better be careful on how you share it and with whom you share it with. You could end up getting arrested.  Or, it could be very embarrassing and cost you your job or marriage. Imagine one day that you received a text message from your buddy Sam who lives in South Florida.  Sam always seemed to know how to find the beautiful women.  He was single and working in the entertainment business. You opened his text message and it contained 10 photographs of beautiful women each posing nude showing all their genitals and buttocks.  What a great set of pictures you thought.  Sending these sorts of text messages is now called “sexting”.   You got excited about the pictures and decided to forward them by sending a text message on your cell phone to every adult male in your address book.  You made no changes to the text message; you just forwarded the text as you had received it. You wanted all of your friends to enjoy the photos.  Turns out, your cell phone freak show was not appreciated by everyone in your address book.  One gentleman in particular called you and said that he was shocked and highly offended when he opened your text message and discovered the nude pictures.  He promised you that he was going to contact the police.  What could happen to you if this disgruntled recipient did contact the police?  There are laws that govern the way you may distribute sexually explicit material.  You could be charged with the distribution of material depicting nudity or sexual conduct if you sent the pictures without an explicit written warning. Your text message did not contain an appropriate warning of the content of your text message.  Adding the following warning to head of your text message could be your best defense: “Notice – The material contained herein depicts nudity or sexual conduct.  If the viewing of such material could be offensive to the addressee, this container should not be opened but returned to the sender.”  Why bother!  Better yet, just don’t forward the text to anyone.  JUST DON’T DO IT!

Attorney Emerson Carey, Jr. has been a trial lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia for over 22 years. He is an adjunct professor at Emory University School of law where he teaches trial advocacy. Attorney Carey can be reached at 404-635-1112, 1-877-635-1112, and ecarey@careydobson.com.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.  Every criminal prosecution is based on its individual facts and requires an independent evaluation by a licensed, experienced attorney.