Sexting and CSAM Increasingly Common in Michigan Due to Pandemic

New research regarding child and adolescent sex practices shows that more kids than ever are sending and receiving sexually suggestive text messages, including nude photos. Some of these photos may be considered child pornography. Another study shows that sharing of child sexually abusive material (CSAM) is also on the rise.

When children send sexually suggestive photos of themselves to others, it’s often done consensually. However, these pictures can end up being shared many times over and fall into the wrong hands. Regarding CSAM, predatory producers of child porn and CSAM have become much more active online, finding new ways to groom and trap their victims to obtain CSAM from them.

Why is there an increase in sexting and CSAM?

These studies point to a few key factors in the proliferation of CSAM. First, life during COVID has led kids to spend more time online on their phones. This makes potential victims of CSAM predators more available. Additionally, more kids than ever have access to technology and at younger ages. This means there are more potential victims available for predators. Finally, there are more tools for predators to hide themselves. The internet provides ways for predators to connect and discuss the best ways to find victims and evade law enforcement. The dark web provides cover for predators to be anonymous.

Is sexting illegal in Michigan?

Sexting can be criminal and several statutes have been used to prosecute sexting and CSAM (aka child pornography) in Michigan:

  • Michigan CSAM Law: Michigan law makes it a crime to possess, distribute, or produce pornography of a child under 18 years old. Regarding sexting, section 750.145c(2) makes it a felony for someone to persuade a child to produce pornography.
  • Disseminating Sexual Explicit Material to a Minor: this statute makes it a felony to send sexually explicit material to a minor.
  • Accosting a Child for Immoral Purposes: this law is sometimes used as an additional charge to the CSAM law when one is charged with soliciting sexual images or acts from a minor under 16 years old.
  • Use of a Computer to Commit a Crime: this law is almost always added as an additional felony charge to any of the above crimes when an electronic communication device like a phone or computer is used to commit any of the above crimes.

If I’m convicted of sexting in Michigan will I be a registered sex offender?

Whether you must register as a sex offender under Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA) depends on the exact statute you were convicted under. If convicted under any of the CSAM (child pornography) statutes, you will need to register under SORA. The same goes for a conviction under Accosting a Child for Immoral Purposes. Of course, if convicted of Criminal Sexual Conduct for having sex or sexual contact with a minor, that will require SORA registration. All the offenses that currently require sex offender registration in Michigan can be found here.

What should I do if I’m charged with sexting in Michigan?

If you’re charged with any sexting-related crime, such as the ones listed above, retain the best Michigan sex crimes attorney possible right away. It’s important have an attorney before talking to law enforcement about the situation. It’s also important not to voluntarily give law enforcement your electronic devices unless they have a warrant. If you’re under investigation for, or being charged with sexting in Michigan, the experienced sex crimes attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm are available to present the best defense for your specific case.

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