Three Sexting Criminal Acts
1.Taking photographs of genitals, pubic area , buttocks or female breast that are of a person under the age of 18 is child pornography, this includes taking photos of your own body. This is a 20 year felony.
2. Sending ,reproducing or distributing these photos is a 7 year felony .
3. Possession of sexually abusive material related to a minor is a 4 year felony.
Take this scenario happening at the local high school.
#1 If a 16 year old Deanna sends her boyfriend Jason a picture she took of herself topless she could possibly be facing 3 felony charges for making, distributing and possessing child pornography. If the boyfriend requested that she send it he could have an added solicitation charge added . If Jason sends the photo to Stevie , then there is another count for distribution.
#2 If Stevie is shocked at the photo , but keeps it on his phone for a couple of months he is more likely to be charged with Possession of sexually explicit material a 4 year felony.
If Stevie is shocked and embarrassed , sends Jason a message back that says " don't ever send me porn again" and erases it , Stevie is less likely to face criminal charges.
The law treats the purported victim Deanna as harshly as Jason who disseminated the photo, likely without his now former girlfriend's permission. What was believed to be a harmless prank is really a situation where all the teens involved could be facing serious felony charges.
The child pornography laws did not anticipate a future issue in which electronic dissemination of inappropriate photographs between teens would be treated as serious criminal penalties . A 40 year old pedophile collecting pictures of naked children and a teenage kid making a dumb decision to forward a picture of his bare bottom can both be prosecuted for child pornography.
A person convicted of child pornography must register and report as a sex offender. In the future the convicted felon can never be present on school grounds , play grounds or day care centers.
The best advice is for parents and schools to discuss these serious consequences with students to avoid not only criminal involvement but also the emotional damage and collateral consequences. Sexting is a way to harass and bully another teen which has led to not only an embarrassing situation but at least one young woman took her own life rather than deal with the shame.
If a teen is under investigation for a possible Sexting incident it is imperative that the teen and parents discuss the matter with a criminal attorney and exercise their right to remain silent .
- Do not take any nude photos of yourself or another with your electronic device.
- Never share or forward a sexually explicit photograph of another under the age of 18.
- If you receive a photo immediately delete and advise the sender to stop sending you pornography.
- Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately before speaking to the police or school authorities if you are being implicated in a Sexting investigation.
You have a constitutionally protected right to remain silent ,use it.