Teenagers who take sexually explicit photos or videos and text them to their friends may subject the sender and receiver to possible child pornography charges.
Our child pornography laws were designed to deter, discourage and to punish hard core distributors, predators and sexual deviants from the sexual exploitation of children.
“Teen Sexting” is a foolish and reckless act conducted by teens and is distinguishable from these hard core predators. Recently however, some prosecutors have broadly interpreted the “possession of sexually explicit images of a minor “to include juveniles who take naked pictures of themselves and send to their friends.
I am confident no parent would condone or encourage their child engaging in sexually explicit texting and probably would discipline them for doing so. However, I am also confident most parents do not want their child being prosecuted and incarcerated for sexually explicit texting to other teens.
Possession of child pornography is a serious felony with mandatory prison time. Juveniles are being suspended and even expelled from school for sending or having explicit images in their possession. Teens are now being charged with distribution of child pornography when they send or forward to others sexually explicit, lewd or naked images of other minors.
This is a serious problem but, let’s not overreact with our legislatures and ruin a juvenile’s life for exercising poor judgment. Let’s not sentence these offending non predatory teens to lifetime probation and registration as a sex offender.
Perhaps these juvenile matters can be prosecuted in the juvenile court system rather than adult felony court. Schools can also educate and deter this kind of misbehavior.
And finally, parents should be the gatekeepers of their children’s lives while they are under the age of majority. Our world is rapidly evolving into a technology world we do not know. Smart phones are truly amazing but, people do dumb things with them. And depending on what image is captured and sent, the consequences legally can be far reaching. Parents beware, and you young kids, don’t do dumb things. Images or words you text to others can end up all over social media, can lead to bullying, ridicule and now even felony charges.
If you or anyone you know are having legal issues relating to this article or any other criminal law matters you need our help with, call us today at (480) 833-1113.