HBLC Law Answers: What Could Happen If I Had “Cybersex” With Someone In Another State?
Law Question: If someone over age 18 in California has “cybersex" with a 17 year old in New York, can the person in California get in trouble? Age of consent in New York is 17 and in California it is 18. How would it be discovered? And what could the possible outcome be?
HBLC Law Answer: This is a very dangerous situation and presents many complicated legal issues. If there are any sexual images of minors sent via the Internet, such as by email, text messages, Facebook, Twitter or the like, both state (California) and federal statutes relating to child pornography can be violated. And it is important to be aware that, according to the Department of Justice website pertaining to federal law on child pornography, “the age of consent for sexual activity in a given state is irrelevant; any depiction of a minor under 18 years of age engaging in sexually explicit conduct is illegal."
Nowadays, the government is very sophisticated in terms of the technical techniques it employs in discovering electronic communications. If you have been paying attention to the news media over the last few months, like the rest of the country, you should now be aware that the government is “listening" to cyberspace and collecting data on everything from phone records to Google searches to vehicle license plate surveillance videos -- either without warrants or by the use of “secret" warrants. There is nothing private anymore. There is now an increase in awareness and litigation relative to the government’s use of these surveillance techniques. But where your question is concerned, anyone sending private information, or engaging in things such as “sexting" or sending any images or content of a sexual nature involving minors is subject to possible discovery and prosecution by the government.