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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 85132
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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Good afternoon, I have a very embarrassing question to ask

Resolved Question:

Good afternoon,

I have a very embarrassing question to ask but one that has been weighing on my mind. Approximately 7 weeks ago I was on the social dating/flirting site “Skout”. I had been on a few times talking to women in the US and other areas – all in good fun. One time by total accident I accidently sent a nude photo to a female who was not the intend recipient. Yes it was of me but it was just a picture taken in the mirror. I was not doing anything graphic or in a state of arousal. I know it sounds funny and unbelievable but I did not mean to send it at all. It was a complete and stupid mistake.

Once I realized what I did I apologized right away and explained it was not meant for that person. I never bothered the person again and did not want to keep begging forgiveness. I did check her profile and she was my age (38) so she wasn’t a minor or anything like that. There is a report and block function on the site but I guess she didn’t do that because I never heard anything from the site or her. (I am sure she did more laughing then anything). From knowing some law – I did not have the mens rea (I think I spelled that correct) to commit a crime or even to send that photo.

I guess what makes me nervous is some stories I have seen on the internet about people getting in trouble and/or arrested from similar incidents. I did engage in sexual conversations with several females on the site over the week (which seems very common on there). All were my age or similar (no younger than 35) – no minors. One thing I did notice about the site is they do take a strong stance on age and people pretending to be younger/older and people seemed to be getting kicked off/banned all the time. Not that it makes it right but I did feel somewhat better about that.

My question is am I going to get in trouble for the photo and am I going to get into any trouble for any sexual conversations I had with another adult? I have been worried ever since and I have deleted the account. After the whole incident, I felt horrible and decided that that was not what I intended to do. I was pulled over for speeding the other day and I was so nervous the officer was going to tell me I had some type of obscenity warrant or child porn warrant. I guess with all the “To Catch a Predator” and such out there I am just extremely nervous.

I know what I did was for sure morally wrong but I am just not sure about criminally and the stress is killing me. I read that Congressman Anthony Weiner didn’t get charge for similar instances but I still worry (and I totally agree that he was morally wrong too).

Thanks in advance – and believe me I am embarrassed just writing this question(s).
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is Ely. I am here to help you. There may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies as I type out a reply. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice; and (2) my function is to give you honest information and not to tell you what you necessarily wish to hear.

First of all, there is no need to be embarrassed. You are on an adult romance-themed website and you simply were doing what the website meant for you to do. So there is no need to feel silly. Furthermore, sending nude photographs of yourself in itself is not criminally actionable.

But let us discuss the specific nuances of the questions.

My question is am I going to get in trouble for the photo and am I going to get into any trouble for any sexual conversations I had with another adult?

No, why would you? You would not get into any more trouble by engaging in this conversation than you would have if you were talking to someone in a bar. Propositioning someone and/or lewd discussions are not illegal. If the other individual found them to be improper, all they had to do was to block you (i.e. walk away from you, if you were at the bar). so you really would not get into any trouble here, whatsoever.

The Texas Penal Code defines electronic harassment as "repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another." Texas Penal Code - Section 42.07(a)(7).

Ergo, having a casual chat online that may become explicit is a long way from bombarding someone with constant emails asking them for sex. Surely, you now see the difference? I imagine that you are beginning to feel better already.

What About The Photograph?
The same rule above applies. Texas Penal Code - Section 42.07(b)(1) includes sending images in sexual harassment. However, the images have to be repeated, abusive, and/or threatening. Your one-time send, followed by a sincere apology and seemingly no complaint from them is a far cry from repeated images of your sexual organ with lewd captions and propositions.

So you see, you did nothing illegal, and nothing unusual, either. It will take a lot more than just this to have the district attorney seriously consider prosecution... this is not even criminal in nature.

IMPORTANT INFO: I hope this finds you well. Please use REPLY TO EXPERT to keep talking, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces because this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects negatively on me as an expert even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. Do not worry, you may always ask follow ups free after rating.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks! I actually do feel better. One last quick question – the thing I was worried about was the “crossing state line thing”. I saw on the person profile that she lived in Alabama. Will that be an issue? Also like I said in my last question, I didn’t talk to any minor or anyone under the age of 30. They all looked my age, profiles all said the right age and I even went as far as to ask in conversation “how old are you again”. I guess I am afraid six months down the road the sheriff’s office or XXXXX XXXXXsen is going to walk in and say surprise – that person was really 14! (I know – unlikely but still a scary thought.)  The only incident I ever had with the site was my account got temporally suspended because it appeared or a moderator thought a couple was using the account (I had photo I had of me and a significant other for the past posted and someone had asked to see it. And yes we both had clothes on!!). I did receive word back that I could open a new account  under a different email address but that is when I decided to deactivate all my log ins and throw in the towel. I was worried some law enforcement agency had all the transcripts and were building a case against me for chatting about sex or sexting with another adult.
 
But I am extremely happy with what you told me. If you believe that I have nothing to worry and I should stop stressing then I will listen to you!
 
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

Nope, this will not make a difference. "Crossing state lines" becomes an issue if you are charged with a federal crime. There is no federal crime that you have come close to breaking here, so this is not anything you should be worried about.

It is not illegal to discuss sex or "sext" with another adult with their consent.

Without their consent, the messages/"sexts" have to be incessant, lewd, numerous, and/or threatening to become an issue. Which this is not.

So yes, you really can relax. I am not just saying that.

IMPORTANT INFO: I hope this finds you well. Please use REPLY TO EXPERT to keep talking, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces because this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects negatively on me as an expert even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. Do not worry, you may always ask follow ups free after rating.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Great! Thanks. I appricate the quick response. I will do my best not to worry!! I have to admit the past week or so I have been really stressed and worried I would be arrested and lose everything for a dumb thing I did because I was stupid!
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
You were not stupid. You did not do anything criminal here unless you were sending out incessant, lewd photographs without provocation.

Good luck, and please don't forget to rate my answer in one of top three faces – it is the only way I get credit for my time with you.
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 85132
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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