When it comes to investigating allegations of criminal sexting, police and prosecutors are increasingly taking a hard line.
Sexting involving minors can result in felony child pornography charges, and even sexting between adults is costing jobs and leading to harassment lawsuits. These serious consequences are often matched by equally serious investigations which can be invasive, time-consuming, and potentially incriminating.
Here are three things you can expect from a criminal sexting investigation:
- You'll be interviewed by police about your private affairs. Both the accused and the accuser in a sexting investigation will likely face lengthy and wide-ranging questioning by police. If you are accused of a crime and arrested, police must read you a Miranda warning, reminding you of your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions. Regardless of whether you choose to answer, police will definitely insist on probing the depths of your private affairs, and what led up to the alleged sexting.
- Your cell phone will likely be seized and searched. Following a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, police must generally obtain a warrant in order to search your cell phone (with some exceptions). However, police can still seize your cell phone at the time of arrest. And if you are accused of a sexting crime, you can count on police pursuing a warrant to search your phone as soon as possible. Incriminating pictures, messages, and other information on your cell phone can potentially be used as evidence in any eventual criminal trial.
- Police may take pictures of your private areas. In some sexting cases, police may also seek a warrant for more information about a far more personal area of your life than your cell phone data: your genitals. For example, police in a recent Virginia sexting case have reportedly obtained a warrant allowing them to medically induce and photograph a boy's erection to match it up with a video he allegedly sent his underage girlfriend.
If you are being investigated by the police for a sexting-related crime, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help defend you against an overly intrusive investigation and help you fight any criminal charges in court.