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Is Sexting with a Minor Illegal in California?

Is Sexting with a Minor Illegal in California compensation lawyer attorney sue

Under California law, using a minor for the purpose of sexual gratification is defined as child sexual abuse. So, we would say “yes” without hesitation to the following questions:

Is sexting with a minor child abuse? Is it a crime?

A minor in California is defined as anyone under the age of 18, which is also known as the age of consent. This is the age at which an individual can legally consent to sexual relations, whether it be physical acts or exchanging sexually explicit content. Anyone under this age cannot give consent, which is why adults sexting with minors is a form of child abuse.

Unfortunately, sexting is very common among kids and predatory adults in schools, sports programs, juvenile halls, summer camps, community centers, and other places where children should feel safe. The truth is, these programs make it easy for child molesters to find victims. Furthermore, a lot of them have a toxic culture of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse due to various acts of negligence by the people in charge.

Lack of accountability, inadequate supervision, and poor judgment are just a few of the reasons why children are sexually assaulted and abused. This is why most lawsuits by victims are filed against a school district, religious group, the county probation department, or another entity, along with the person that’s guilty of the offense. Aside from criminal prosecution, you have the right to demand monetary compensation in a sexual abuse lawsuit. For more information on suing for sexting and other sexual abuse of an underage individual, please contact our law firm.

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California’s Law on Sexting with a Minor

Under California’s Penal Code 228.2 PC, it is a crime to send, distribute, or solicit content of a sexual nature from a minor via electronic communications, like texting or using a chat app. Sexual content, which the law defines as “harmful matter,” is defined as:

  • Sending sexually explicit photos of yourself to someone younger than 18
  • Asking the minor for sexually explicit photos / video of themselves
  • Sharing / distributing such content with others
  • Engaging in sexually charged conversations with a minor
  • Sending pornographic links, images, or video to a child

For a criminal prosecution, it would have to be shown that the adult knew the recipient of the material was underage. In addition, the adult must have the intent of engaging in sexual activity with the victim, or they want to sexually arouse the minor and essentially seduce them into a sexual relationship.

This is a common strategy that’s used against older children, as they are struggling with hormonal urges and concepts like attraction and love on a daily basis. Abusive teachers, coaches, religious leaders, etc., prey on these weaknesses in order to justify their behavior. You’ll often find these people saying things like, “He said he wanted me to touch him,” or “She knew what she was doing, and she liked it.”

These statements may be true on a technical level, but it’s not hard to see how a teenager can be manipulated into doing something that feels good with someone they trust and respect. That’s why child predators spend weeks, if not months, grooming a child with attention, compliments, and being there for them when they need someone to talk to. By the time things escalate into sexting and other sexual activity, the child is reluctant to say no and walk away. Or, they may be convinced that what they have with this other person is a special and authentic relationship.

But all of these victims eventually realize that they are being used, and this is where the guilt, shame, and anger take over. Blaming oneself is very common among those who were sexually abused as children, along with feeling too ashamed to tell anyone about the events.

We understand that you may have held on to the secret of child sexual abuse for many years. Please know that what happened to you was never your fault, and that countless others can relate to your pain and anguish. A lawsuit will not solve all your problems, but getting justice and punishing those who failed to protect you has helped our clients heal and move forward with their lives. We hope to do the same for you, so please take a moment to speak with a member of our legal team.

California Teacher Charged with Sexting and Other Child Sexual Abuse Offenses

Stacy Michelle Walker, a teacher at Mt. Carmel High School, was arrested in March 2024 for sexual abuse against one of her students, which took place over a period of several years. According to a statement by the San Diego Police, the relationship began when the victim was 15 through digital conversations “that became sexual in nature.”

Starting from 2017, Walker began sexting the female student by sending and receiving sexual messages, photos, and video. Eventually, the California drama teacher met the student for sexual activity multiple times, and the assaults continued after the victim’s 18th birthday in 2019. When asked if these incidents happened on school premises, a police spokesperson would only say that they “occurred at various locations.”

Walker, who has been jailed since March 20, 2024, is facing 17 charges, including luring a minor for a sex offense, oral copulation, and sodomy. The San Diego Police are asking other victims to contact them directly, and yes, we have no doubt that other students were preyed upon by this sickening individual.

This case is a good example of how sexting is much more than sending adult-rated content over the phone or computer. It’s actually a tool for grooming a minor and taking advantage of their curiosity, developing bodies, and need for emotional support. What these kids can end up with, instead, is deep psychological damage from the trauma of sexual abuse.

We want to stress that the one who should feel ashamed in this situation is the adult, and not the child who was so cruelly used and discarded. As a minor, you did not have the intellectual or emotional capacity to make an informed choice regarding sexual activity with a mature adult. Recovery from child sexual assault and harassment won’t be easy, but counseling, support groups, and other forms of help are out there. As for us, we are here to advise you of your rights and help you decide if filing a lawsuit is in your best interest.

How Much is the Average Settlement for a Sexting with a Minor Lawsuit?

The amount you can receive from a child sex abuse lawsuit may be around $1,000,000 to $5,000,000, based on the degree of harm and suffering, the sexual acts that were involved, and many other factors. Cases where the victim was sexually assaulted are generally worth more than claims for sexual harassment / exploitation. Child sexual assault lawsuits are typically settled for $2,000,000 or more while non-physical sexual abuse cases can settle for $500,000 to $1,500,000.

But what about cases like the young woman who sexually abused and assaulted by Stacey Michelle Walker for several years? That case began with sexual grooming and solicitation and eventually progressed to acts of child sexual assault. Lawsuits with these circumstances are normally worth several million dollars, and possibly over $5,000,000 based on the victim’s injuries and negligence by the school system or another major organization.

How Long Do Child Sexual Abuse Cases Take to Settle?

Sexual abuse claims where the victim is legally a child take 1 to 2 years to settle, and possibly 3 or more years if there is a court trial. These timelines are especially relevant if you are suing a government or public entity, like the County of San Diego or Poway Unified School District. Now and then, we are able to settle a child sexual assault claim within 6 months, but we would have to say that most cases take 12 to 24 months before they settle.

A settlement timeline of less than 1 year is possible in lawsuits against private organizations, like a church or tutoring center. But these organizations have been hit with a deluge of sexual abuse complaints in recent years, so there is a significant backlog of lawsuits that they are working through. Though some of these cases are settled in 8 months or less, it’s safe to assume that it will take at least 1 year to reach a settlement for a child sexual abuse lawsuit.

Is Sexting with a Minor Illegal in California compensation lawyer attorney sue
Statute of Limitations to Sue for Sexual Abuse of a Minor

A lawsuit for sexual abuse that occurred prior to the age of 18 must be filed by either of these dates:

  • Whenever the victim turns 40 years old
  • 5 years from when the victim realizes the physical / emotional harm that was caused by sexual abuse and assault.

The 5-year discovery rule is a powerful form of legal protection that essentially takes away the age requirement to sue for childhood sexual abuse. This standard applies to victims who are unable to talk about or seek help for their emotional trauma out of fear or shame, or from lack of a support system.

Due to the repression of sexual abuse, these children grow into adults with serious mental health issues. But realizing they need help and going to a therapist may not happen until they are past the age of 40. That’s why you have 5 years from the discovery of injuries resulting from sexual abuse to initiate a compensation claim.

Speak to a California Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Legal and social changes with the past few years have resulted in more victims coming forward and demanding justice for the abuse they suffered as children. But having an experienced sexual abuse lawyer is critical to navigating the legal system, which is where we can be of help.

At DTLA Law Group, we have a Zero Fee Guarantee so that victims pay $0 towards the cost of legal fees. The only way we get paid is by securing your settlement from the other party, so in other words, you owe us absolutely nothing if we don’t win your lawsuit.

For a free case evaluation on suing for sexual abuse of a minor, contact our office as soon as possible.

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