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How Sexting Can Lead to a Felony Charge

October 17, 2017 |

sexting felony chargeIt can seem like innocent fun or kids being kids, but the new trend of “sexting” can turn into a felony charge that will label teenagers as sex offenders and haunt them throughout their lives. In most states, there is no distinction between the offender and the victim in these cases. The moment a child under the age of 18 snaps an explicit photograph of themselves and sends it to someone, they are both the offender and the victim.

In Michigan, there were high schools, Romeo and Rochester, in which dozens of students were involved in circulating sexually suggestive photographs of students with one another. Despite the photographs having been taken willfully, the laws currently in existence in the state could have the teenagers facing 20 years in prison, if tried as adults. The girls had cooperated but the situation got out of control.

In Colorado, public officials in Canon City found at least 100 students were trading photographs through their cellphones. There has been a report that it will take as long as a month to discern who was an offender and who was a victim in the case. The district attorney stated there were no plans to treat all of the students as child pornographers and that there might be no criminal charges. In the state, distributing sexually explicit images of a minor is a Class 3 felony that can be punishable by four to 12 years in prison. Possessing those same pictures is a Class 6 felony and could be punished with 12 to 18 months in prison.

This means a child that turns 18 could face prison time for having a photograph of their 17 year old significant other. Because of this, there is important information both teenagers and parents should know.

Laws Related to Teenage Sexting

  • Simply possessing a sexually explicit image of a minor is illegal.
  • Distribution is illegal, even if the image is of yourself.
  • Promoting, such as taking the photograph of the minor in a sexual act even if you are the person in the photograph, is also illegal. This means that a teenager that takes a nude photograph and sends it to someone else has committed three felonies.
  • Even a teenager that did not ask for a photograph can be charged with possession. If they send it to someone else, they could have distribution charges as well.
  • If one of the teenagers is 18 years old, even if they only recently turned 18, they can be tried as an adult. In some states, the age is 17. This also carries a larger risk of stricter prosecution.
  • Conviction will likely be a felony and the teenager will have to register as a sex offender, even if it was two significant others exchanging consensual photographs.

The ramifications can be severe. If your child is facing such charges, contact us today. Having the right legal counsel at this time is imperative to your child’s future.