Sexting under the law of Scotland

At present, sexting in Scotland could be prosecuted under one of four statutes. Law officers treat complaints of sexting like any other potential crime and on an individual basis. If convicted, a youth faces up to 6 months in a Young Offenders Institution (if aged 16-21 years), or regular prison if over 21 years, and/or a fine of up to £1,000. Children under 16 will be referred to the Children’s Hearing System.

Thus far, prosecutors are keen to separate out typical youthful high jinks from criminal activity so that young people do not end up with a criminal record and a notification on the Sex Offenders Register without good cause.

If bullying and harassment become more serious, UK authorities may take a more proactive approach as has happened in Canada and the US. There several suicides have made the authorities tighten up their approach to prosecution of young people. The incidents took place after videos of young women engaging in sex, having being filmed by classmates on smartphones, were sent to other classmates and beyond. The resulting extensive humiliation and taunting drove the vulnerable young women to commit suicide.

This is a general guide to the law and does not constitute legal advice.

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