In Some States, Sexting Violates Child Pornography Laws

Law Firm Newswire




Lakeland, FL (Law Firm Newswire) October 15, 2014 – The law has had difficulty dealing with sexting as a crime. Technology is moving faster than the speed of light. For now, sexting is grouped with child pornography laws.

“The usual definition of sexting is the electronic transmission of sexually graphic/explicit images and/or text. Teens under the age of majority are often involved, though adults sext as well. The most important point to understand is that sexting is extremely and seriously illegal if the images sent are those of children. The crime carries harsh legal ramifications,” said criminal defense attorney Thomas C. Grajek of Lakeland, Florida.

The mode of transmission does not matter, although most teen sexting involves the use of a mobile phone. However, sending explicit pictures is still considered sexting even if they are sent by email, webcam or digital camera. 

No matter what the teen’s intention is in sending photos, the problem begins when those photos are forwarded or posted in unwanted locations. Even though the sender and recipient think they are exclusively sending sexual images to each other, that may not be the case if one of those parties violates their assumed agreement.

Teen sexting is a violation of state and federal laws. Even though the sender and receiver may not intend to engage in child pornography, the law does not, in most instances, differentiate between teen sexting and other ways of possessing, producing or distributing child porn. Prosecution of teen sexting has been underway for some time, and some of those convicted face entering the sex offender registry, jail time, fines and restricted probation.

There may be other consequences as well, as demonstrated by the story of the Evanston High School varsity baseball team. The team’s coach pulled players from state playoffs after learning they were sexting images of female classmates. The Illinois Bar Association pointed out that one in five teens sends sexually explicit messages via phone or other means. A similar situation exists in Florida and in other states.

Somes states have enacted new teen sexting laws that do not treat the offense as child pornography. “Those states include, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Vermont. Other states are still considering their options,” listed Grajek.

In Florida, teens sending or receiving sexts are charged with a misdemeanor for the first two offenses. A third offense is a felony charge. There is no punishment if a teen reports the sexts and did not ask to receive them.

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