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Can You Go to Jail for Sending Nude Photos in SC?

Can You Go to Jail for Sending Nude Photos in SC?

Can You Go to Jail for Sending Nude Photos in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, it is generally against the law to send or receive nude photos of someone under the age of 18. If you are caught doing so, a criminal conviction can lead to jail time and hefty fines. If you're considering sending a risqué photo via a text, email, messaging app, chatroom, Snapchat, or any other online platform, it's important to think twice—especially if the receiver is a minor.

Keep reading to learn more about how South Carolina laws pertaining to sexting and the exchange of sexually explicit materials on the internet.

Understanding Sexting & Related Crimes in South Carolina

As our digital world continues to redefine modern partnerships, sexting has become an increasingly common activity among couples of all ages. “Sexting” refers to the digital exchange or communication of nude or sexually explicit images or messages with a significant other.

Often, the criminal penalties for sexting can lead to accrued charges for related crimes or enhanced criminal penalties if convicted, making it all the more crucial for South Carolina residents to understand how state and federal laws apply to the exchange of sexually explicit materials. Can you go to jail for sending a nude photo to a significant other?

Consider the following criminal penalties for sexting and related charges in South Carolina:


In South Carolina, sexting is only legal when it occurs between two consenting adults. Under state law, an adult is any person aged 18 or older, while a minor is any person under the age of 18.

Sexting laws in South Carolina are especially important to understand given the rise in smartphone use among teenagers. Although some states have enacted legislation to approach teenage sexting with more lenience, South Carolina has not enacted a specific law pertaining to teenage sexting. This means that even teenagers in healthy relationships who engage in sexting are at risk of serious legal penalties.

For example, if two 17-year-old partners are in a committed long-term relationship, the older partner can be charged with serious criminal offenses after turning 18, as they can now be tried as an adult in criminal court. As you can imagine, this can lead to terrifying possibilities, including prison time, fines, and even mandatory sex offender registration.

What if a teenager consents to sexting with an adult?

It’s imperative to understand that any person under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to sexual acts in South Carolina.

For example, even if the younger party in the aforementioned relationship is willing to continue exchanging sexually explicit messages and images with the older partner, this is still illegal, as the 17-year-old’s consent is not valid under the law. This means that the 18-year-old party can face serious criminal charges regardless of the younger partner’s willingness to participate.

Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (Child Pornography)

The act of possessing, disseminating, or producing child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) is illegal in South Carolina. Formerly known as child pornography, CSAM is defined as imagery, video, audio, or otherwise sexually explicit footage depicting a minor engaging in sexual acts.

Sexual exploitation of a minor can be classified as one of three degrees:

  1. Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in the First Degree. Under S.C. Code of Laws §16-15-395, first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor is committed when a person produces, resells, or otherwise manufactures child sexual abuse materials (CSAM). This is a felony charge punishable by 3-20 years in prison.
  2. Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in the Second Degree. Under S.C. Code of Laws §16-15-405, second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor occurs when someone shares or otherwise disseminates child sexual abuse materials (CSAM). This is a felony charge punishable by 2-10 years in prison.
  3. Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in the Third Degree. Under S.C. Code of Laws §16-15-410, third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor is committed when child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) are determined to be in an individual's possession. This is a felony charge punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Disseminating Obscenity to Minors

In South Carolina, disseminating obscene material to minors is a crime. Under S.C. Code of Laws §16-15-355, it’s illegal for an adult (any person aged 18 or older) to knowingly disseminate material that they know or reasonably should know is obscene to a minor (any person under 18 years old). This is a felony offense that, if convicted, can result in up to 5 years in prison.

Defending the Accused in South Carolina Since 2004

In South Carolina, sexting and other sex crimes involving a minor are serious offenses that can result in hefty fines and jail time. If you’ve been accused of a sex crime, it’s essential to take immediate action if you wish to protect your future.

Our experienced legal team understands how frightening it can be to face criminal charges. Since 2004, our skilled criminal defense attorneys have successfully defended the rights of the accused in South Carolina. With an exclusive focus on criminal defense law, our firm is well-equipped to aggressively defend your rights and restore your freedom.

At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, we understand that not everyone on the wrong side of the law deserves to be there. Whether you were unaware of your actions or simply made an honest mistake, our firm is committed to fighting for the second chance you deserve.

Turn to a trusted criminal defense lawyer who will fight tirelessly to restore your freedom. Call (803) 359-3301 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. 


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