Overview of Texas Legal Age Laws Texas, as do many other states, recognizes 18 as the "age of majority," at which point residents are legally considered adults (as opposed to "minors").But Texas legal ages laws also govern a minor's eligibility for emancipation, the legal capacity for signing a contract or consenting to medical treatment.Under this law, it is illegal for one minor to electronically send an image of someone younger than 18 years old to another minor; this includes images of the sender, recipient, or another underage person. § 43.261.) Adults who sext with minors may be prosecuted for distributing sexual images to a minor, possessing or distributing child pornography, or promoting sexual performance by a minor. The Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003 makes it illegal to produce, distribute, receive, or possess with intent to distribute any obscene visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Parents who allow this behavior can also be prosecuted. An adult who sexts with a minor may be charged under one of several state laws mentioned above, depending on whether the adult sent, received, or solicited the sexts; and penalties increase if the adult distributed those images to others as child pornography.However, minors have a defense to prosecution when the images are solely of the sender or recipient, were sent within a dating relationship, and both parties are not more than two years apart in age (including if one party is 18 or older). These crimes are usually punished as felonies, described below. Knowing possession of such material—without intent to distribute—is also a crime under the PROTECT Act. Penalties may include a fine of up to ,000, up to 20 years in prison, or both.
The table below highlights some of the main provisions of Texas legal ages laws.
A 51-year-old Texas man named Aldo Leiva is currently dating his 17-year-old student.
Their relationship is technically legal—but after she sent him nude selfies, he was charged with possession of child pornography.
The legal age of consent varies from state to state, but all such laws are designed to protect kids.
In Texas, for example, the age of consent is 17 years old, making the relationship between 51-year-old Aldo Leiva and an unnamed 17-year-old high school student legal in that state.
With the rise of cell phone use, especially among teenagers, the practice of “sexting”—sending nude or sexually suggestive photos by text message—has also become common.