Selfies and sexting

Sexting is sending nude, sexual or indecent photos (or 'selfies') using a computer, mobile phone or other mobile device.  

Sexting is a crime if you intentionally send an intimate image of a person under 18 to others, even if they agree to the image being sent.

It is against the law to take, keep, ask for or send or keep a ‘sexy pic’ or video of someone who is under 18.  Under the law, any sexy image of a person under 18 could be considered child pornography and there are serious consequences if you are charged by police.  

If police want to question you about an offence, see a lawyer as soon as possible. Don’t agree to do a video record of interview until you have spoken to a lawyer.

This information will help you to understand what the law says about ‘sexy pics’ or videos. Find out:

  • What things can be considered sexting?
  • Are you still breaking the law if the person in the photo agrees for it to be taken, kept or sent?
  • What should I do if someone asks me to send them a ‘sexy pic’?
  • What should I do about a photo that is already out there?

What is a 'sexy pic' or video?

It can be difficult to decide if a picture or video would be considered child pornography. It could be a photo of someone nude or semi-nude. Even photos or videos of someone fully clothed, but in a sexy pose, can be considered a ‘sexy pic.’

Texts without pictures that are sexual in nature could also be against the law.

If you are not sure then don’t take it, keep it, send it or ask for it.

There is no safe way to send a sexy picture. You can't control who sees a photo of you once you have sent it by text, email or posted it online.

If you're worried about a picture that's already out there, talk to an adult you trust.

What if a young person agrees to send me a nude or 'sexy pic’?

Even if the young person in a photo agreed to have their photo taken, or sent it to you themselves, it is illegal.

If you are under 18, you can't take, send or store a sexy picture of yourself. Even if you are over the age of consent, you still can't film or photograph yourself doing anything sexy with someone else, if anyone in the photo or video is under 18 years old. 

What can I say if someone asks me for a picture?

You have the right to say 'no' to being involved in any type of sexual activity, including being in a sexy picture. A person who cares about you will respect your decision, even if they're disappointed.

If you are worried, or if you are being pressured, talk to an adult you can trust.

I'm worried about a picture that's already out there

If you've already sent a picture that you're worried about, delete the picture from your phone and computer and ask the person who received it to delete it from theirs.

Ask them not to send it to anyone else.

If you are worried that they didn't delete it, or if you find out that they have sent it to someone else, get help from an adult you trust. 

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner has more information about what you can do to remove images.

What are the criminal consequences for sexting offences?

These sorts of offences involve child pornography and you can be sent to prison for a long time.

If you are convicted of certain sexual offences, you will be declared a ‘reportable offender’ and be placed on the sex offender register. This will make it very difficult for you to work with children and you will need to let police know every time you change your address, change the way you look, change jobs or plan to travel.

Make sure you speak to a lawyer before you answer any police questions or do a video record of interview. If you are charged with a sexting offence, get legal advice as soon as possible.

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.