School talks where local prosecutors and law enforcement talk to students about the dangers of “sexting”, or sending illicit photos are becoming increasingly common. While teen sexting is a societal issue and a problem for kids, the question of whether serious felony charges is an appropriate answer is rarely asked.

A local Alabama district attorney spoke to students at the Verbana High School, in Chilton County, AL about how “sexting” could result in life changing felony criminal charges and a 10 year prison sentence.

It is technically true that under the law, any transmission of nude images of a person under 17, or even just possessing such a photo on your iPad can result in a child pornography charge with up to a 10 year prison sentence attached. Many state laws do not make any distinction between kids sending and sharing photos of themselves willingly (if foolishly) or adults exploiting kids photos for their own gratification.

Specifically, under Alabama state law Possession of child pornography is a class C felony. Even if it is just a picture of yourself. And it also includes a requirement that you register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. [click to continue…]

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Colorado Teen Sexting Reform Passes

by dmatson on April 21, 2017

A bill to create new misdemeanor criminal charges for teens caught sexting has been passed by the Colorado state legislature, and now awaits signing by Governor Hickenlooper.  Under previous existing law, any incident of “sexting”, i.e. transmission of a sexually explicit photo or video via mobile phone, is currently considered a felony child pornography sex offense, sexual exploitation of a child.

After extensive hearings and debate, the current compromise version of the reform bill, House bill 1302, would create new misdemeanor charges, “posting private images by a juvenile”, and “possessing private images by a juvenile”. Both charges would be classified as Class 2 Misdemeanor offenses. However, a Class 3 felony offense of child pornography, which would result in a sex offender registry requirement, is still a possibility if the district attorney “feels it is appropriate in egregious cases.”

Colorado sexting lawsHowever, “consensual sexting” by teens will be a civil infraction, which was a key negotiating component of those looking to protect teens from dumb, impulsive decisions from overblown, serious felony prosecutions.

The compromise bill:

  • Creates a Petty Offense of possession of a private nude image of another teen without their permission, if the juvenile is at least 14 and within 4 years of the victim’s age
  • Creates a Class 2 Misdemeanor Offense of posting a private nude image of another teen without their permission, if the juvenile is at least 14 and within 4 years of the victim’s age.
  • creates diversion programs for first-time offenders
  • mandates expungement of court records 42 days after completion of the diversion program

Overall, this bill appears to be meaningful progress towards not punishing kids for careless and impulsive action with no other victims but leaves prosecutors room to charge exploitative, bullying, or other threatening actions with crimes under the new Colorado statutes.

 

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California Prostitution Law Reform Takes Effect

January 4, 2017

California has decriminalized prostitution for minors as a way to treat underage sex workers as victims and not criminals. As of January 1, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law that protects young girls from criminal penalties associated with being trafficked for prostitution. Under the new law, young people caught in prostitution arrests will also […]

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What is Sextortion?

December 29, 2016

“Sextortion” is the act of threatening someone if they do not send you a revealing, nude, or sexy photo, or “sext“. It is most commonly an issue with teens and juveniles. For example, if a girl sends her boyfriend a suggestive photo, and the boy threatens the girl with sending it to her parents or […]

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Vague news report of middle school kids “sexting ring” completely misses the point

December 19, 2016

What exactly is a “Sexting ring”? It sounds scandalous and illegal. But that is what is reported as having happened at a middle school in Rapid City, South Dakota. KOTA-TV reports about the “ring”, and that 40 students were caught and disciplined for, what one can only guess, involved a group sharing of “sexts”, or, […]

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Are Prostitution-Related Sex Crimes Part of Human Sex Trafficking?

September 9, 2013

Many people consider prostitution and related sex offenses “victimless” crimes, a sort of agreement between two or more people to enter into a criminal business arrangement where no one get hurt. But increasingly, states are treating the oldest profession in the world as part of the larger sex trafficking phenomena, changing the way prostitution cases […]

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DNA Shows 33 Convicted Sex Offenders in Virginia May be Innocent

July 2, 2012

It is amazing how much bad evidence, misinformation and panic can get you a wrongful criminal convictions, especially when it comes to sex offenses.

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Sex Offenders’ Early Releases Prompt Lawmakers to Change Laws

May 5, 2012

If there is any single category of crime that gets a disproportionate amount of disdain from both lawmakers and the public, it’s sex offenses. And a new story out of Indiana is a good example of this. Two sex offenders slashed their sentences by following guidelines used by all inmates. But their early release, unlike […]

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Sexting and Depression Linked in Teens

November 16, 2011

A new study shows a correlation between sexting and depression among teens.

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Sex Offenders Less Likely to Re-offend than Other Criminals

November 15, 2011

If you were to ask a member of the general public what criminals are most likely to reoffend after an initial arrest, many would guess sex offenders. As a whole, we’ve had it drilled into us that sex offenders will reoffend and reoffend and the only way to stop them is by incapacitation in prison. […]

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