Obviously, you want your son to find someone who makes him happy. That's why you encouraged him to keep in touch with his high school sweetheart when he headed off to college. You simply had no way of knowing that his decision to send her an illicit snapshot could end up causing so much trouble.
Understanding Oklahoma's Age of Consent Laws
The age of consent is the minimum age at which a person is considered to have the mental capacity to consent to sexual intercourse. If a person in a sexual relationship is under the age of consent, their partner can be charged with statutory rape even if there was no force or coercion involved.
In Oklahoma, the age of consent is 16. However, since the state understands that teenage relationships often involve partners with a slight age difference, there is a "Romeo and Juliet" exemption that covers cases where each individual is at least 14 years of age and younger than 18 years of age.
If your son is 18 or older and attending college, you are correct in thinking that it is legal for him to have a consenting sexual relationship with his 17-year-old girlfriend.
Why Age of Consent Doesn't Apply to Sending Nudes
Under Oklahoma law, any sexual communication with a minor—even when the communication is about lawful sexual conduct—is considered a felony criminal offense. Conduct that facilitates, encourages, offers, or solicits sexual conduct with a minor or a person who is believed to be a minor is illegal, even if no actual sexual intercourse or physical conduct is involved. This is outlined in Oklahoma Code section 21-1040.13A: Facilitating, encouraging, offering or soliciting sexual conduct or engaging in sexual communication with a minor or person believed to be a minor, which states:
It is unlawful for any person to facilitate, encourage, offer or solicit sexual conduct with a minor, or other individual the person believes to be a minor, by use of any technology, or to engage in any communication for sexual or prurient interest with any minor, or other individual the person believes to be a minor, by use of any technology. For purposes of this subsection, "by use of any technology" means the use of any telephone or cellphone, computer disk (CD), digital video disk (DVD), recording or sound device, CD-ROM, VHS, computer, computer network or system, internet or World Wide Web address including any blog site or personal web address, e-mail address, internet Protocol address (IP), text messaging or paging device, any video, audio, photographic or camera device of any computer, computer network or system, cellphone, any other electrical, electronic, computer or mechanical device, or any other device capable of any transmission of any written or text message, audio or sound message, photographic, video, movie, digital or computer-generated image, or any other communication of any kind by use of an electronic device.
What this means is that snaps, DMs, texts, and videos of a sexual nature can have devastating consequences for your son's future.
Consequences of a Conviction for Sending Sexually Oriented Material to a Minor
In Oklahoma, transmitting sexually oriented material to a minor is punishable by:
- A prison term of up to 10 years
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Both prison time and a fine
Transmitting sexually oriented material to a minor is classified as a Level 2 sex crime. If your son is convicted, he will be required to register as a sex offender every six months for 25 years.
If this wasn't shocking enough, each communication between your son and his underage girlfriend can be considered a separate criminal offense.
What You Can Do to Help Your Son
Your son doesn't deserve to be punished for engaging in a consenting relationship with his girlfriend, but your family still has a long battle ahead. To learn more about the steps you can take to help your son during this difficult time, please request a copy of our guide to sex crimes charges in Oklahoma, Fighting The Guilt Machine. We provide this free resource to help our clients make informed decisions about protecting their legal rights.
As a former felony prosecutor who has now dedicated his practice to defending those accused of serious crimes in Oklahoma, I understand that good people can find themselves in seemingly impossible circumstances. My firm has an impressive track record of successfully defending clients accused of sex crimes, and you can be assured that I will fight to clear your son's name.
Has Your Son Been Charged With a Sex Crime in the Tulsa, OK, Area?
If your son has been charged with a sex crime in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call 918-384-0850 for your initial strategy session. We are proud to serve Tulsa and all surrounding areas.