Is “Cyber-Flashing” a Criminal Offense in Tennessee?

On Behalf of Law Offices of Thomas Maynard Oct. 1, 2020

Exposing one’s genitals to others without their consent, or “flashing” someone, is a criminal offense that can leave victims traumatized. The proliferation of security cameras and dashcams in vehicles has helped reduce in-person flashing, but the internet has provided would-be flashers with a new way to harass other people.

Cyber-flashing involves sending unsolicited nude pictures or sexually explicit videos to someone without their permission or consent. Regardless of whether someone sends such images through text messages or over social media or dating apps, receiving unsolicited nude pictures can feel like a violation.

Some people trying to flirt online may not realize that the other party isn’t interested in seeing their explicit images until that person responds negatively. What happens if someone claims your sext was really an unsolicited nude? Is cyber-flashing currently a criminal act in Tennessee?

Tennessee Does Not Explicitly Prohibit Cyber-Flashing

Although more people have started to understand how widespread cyber-flashing is and how traumatic it can be for victims, Tennessee does not currently have laws in place specifically penalizing the unsolicited and non-consensual sharing of explicit images unless the person sharing their own image is a minor.

However, that doesn’t mean that such actions won’t potentially carry consequences. Especially for someone who repeatedly sends messages and images to someone who has explicitly asked for such communication to cease, cyber-flashing could fall under the grounds of harassment or even stalking under Tennessee law, which includes electronic and digital communications in its code.

While these charges may not be as serious as a violent sex crime might be, they could still carry significant penalties for the person accused. Anyone dealing with allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior, including the unsolicited sharing of their own nude photos, may want to talk about their situation with an experienced Tennessee defense attorney.