In Arlington, Virginia there are a variety of sexual offenses that can be tried as felonies. Below, an Arlington sex crimes lawyer discusses these crimes along with whether sexting is considered to be a sexual offense. Call today to discuss your case and schedule a free consultation with an attorney.
Most sex crimes in Virginia are charged as felonies. The only significant one that stands out as an exception is sexual battery which is a class 1 misdemeanor. Sexual battery occurs when a person “sexually abuses” another person and that the assault was done against their will by force, threat, intimidation, or ruse. The legal definition of “sexual abuse” is an act committed with the intent to sexually molest, arouse, or gratify any person whether the defendant intentionally touched the complaining witness’ intimate parts or material directly covering those intimate parts.
So, other than sexual battery which is a serious misdemeanor offense, almost every other sexual offense in the Virginia code is charged as a felony.
It can be one, but sexting by itself is not enough. It typically becomes a crime when a minor is involved because in Virginia possession of child pornography is a class 6 felony punishable by up to five years on jail and the second offense can be more. So, if there is a child involved in that sexting then it can be charged as the crime of possession of child pornography.
Additionally, creation of child pornography is a crime. This can be the taking of pornographic pictures of a minor, or even requesting pictures of that kind to be taken. This charge is also a felony, and if the child is less than 15 years old this crime is punishable by five to thirty years in prison. If the child is 15 years of age to 18, then it is still a felony and is punishable by one to twenty years in jail. There are also increased penalties if the age difference between the defendant and the child is more than seven years.
So even though sexting between adults in Virginia is not a crime, when someone under 18 is involved sexting becomes a serious offense punishable by significant amounts of time in jail. Just having a picture of that type on your phone can be charged as possession of child pornography. If there are multiple pictures, the Commonwealth can bring another felony count for each image, and charge each as a “second or subsequent offense”.