By Mark Theoharis. Since cell phones first saw widespread adoption in the s, they've become not just ever present, but have developed vastly expanded capabilities, such as the ability to take and instantly share photos. Some states have adopted laws that prescribe penalties aimed specifically at teenagers or adolescents who send such photos. These laws make the penalties for teen sexting less severe than if an adult would send similar photos to an under-age person. To get state specific details regarding sexting, jump ahead to teen sexting laws by state. Sexting laws are a relatively new phenomena in the law. Though specific teen sexting laws are not present in a majority of states, the trend appears to be towards more widespread adoption of sexting laws. In the meantime, in those states without sexting laws, sexting may still be punished under pre-existing laws that target child pornography. The states that have adopted sexting laws have specifically targeted images sent between or among teenagers.
What Is Child Pornography?
New Area of the Law
A common behavior in relationships today involves the use of technology as in sexting. By definition sexting the sending of an erotic, explicit or pornographic photo or video through an electronic device, such as a cell phone, tablet or IPod. While some states across the nation have put laws into place specifically targeting teen sexting, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has not, and these actions are often covered legally under child pornography laws. These child pornography laws are normally used to punish adults harshly who solicit suggestive photographs from underage people, however in cases of teen to teen sexting, the sharing of these photographs can provide harsh penalties to young people. One instance of this is the case of 6 young teenagers who were facing felony child pornography charges after sharing an explicit photograph of one of their year-old peers. The charges were ultimately dropped for the teens, however, but they had the potential to face harsh punishments and a serious blemish on their criminal records if convicted.
Investigation and Possible Consequences
Updated August Washington passes new teen sexting law. On April 24, , Gov. We have published a new article with additional information about the new law. Skip to main content. EG that a minor can be charged with distribution of child pornography for taking and sending a picture of their intimate areas to another person. The court ruled that the statutory language allowed the charges, and deferred to the way the Legislature has written the law. Unfortunately, this means that, unless the Legislature amends the statute, any minor involved in sexting continues to be at risk of felony charges.
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