101 on Pennsylvania’s Teen Sexting Laws


Sexting is a term that is new to the lexicon: prior to the arrival of cell phones and smart phones, the ability to send and receive photographs of a sexual nature, or that depict people who are nude or doing something indecent, simply did not exist. Now that the technology is widely available, it has led to widespread sharing of these types of photos and content, including among the young. In response, the state of Pennsylvania has established laws and penalties to prohibit this activity, and to punish those who engage in it. If you are a teenager or the parent of a teenager, it is important that you understand Pennsylvania’s teen sexting laws. If your teen has been charged with the crime of teen sexting, then you need the legal guidance of the experienced lawyers at Erik B. Jensen Attorneys at Law.

The sexting laws in Pennsylvania specifically refer to the “transmission of sexually explicit images by minors.” The crime is not considered a felony: it treats the activity as a completely separate type of offense designated for those who are under 18. This represents a significant shift from the laws in place prior to 2012, which would have held teens responsible for violations of child pornography laws, and which carried potential penalties that included jail time. The new law carries the possibility of being charged with summary offenses if they knowingly distribute nude pictures of themselves, and also carries penalties for any child that is in possession of these types of images that are sent to them by a child between the age of 12 and 18.

The Pennsylvania statute assigns varying degrees to sexting, with the harshest penalties reserved for teens who send images of other teens, or who make or share sexually explicit images with the purpose of harassing, coercing, or intimidating them, though if the materials that are sent involve minors involved in sex acts, or if the sharing is combined with trying to monetize the photos, then the teen can be charged with child pornography violations.

The possible penalties for teen sexting include forfeiture of the phone or other device used for the transmission of the offending images, as well as required attendance at educational programs regarding the consequences of sexting. These consequences include both legal and social impacts.

Teen sexting is a crime in the state of Pennsylvania, and though the laws that are currently in place have been written to provide consequences that are less severe than was previously true, it is still essential that a teen accused of sexting has competent, knowledgeable legal representation in order to ensure that the penalty that they face is minimized. The lawyers at Erik B. Jensen Attorneys at Law can provide you with the positive representation that you need.