“Sexting” is a relatively new term that refers to the sending, receiving or otherwise sharing of sexually explicit images, usually by text message. It’s become common in an era in which most people have a smartphone (and many spend hours each day using it). Although consenting adults have the right to voluntarily trade these images with each other, the decision to do so comes with plenty of risks. Namely, sexts may wind up in the hands of people for whom they weren’t intended.
In some instances, what was considered “innocent” sexting can be a crime, especially when it involves teens. Here’s what you need to know about the current Florida law.
Florida law focuses largely on sexting that involves minors. It’s generally a crime for an adult to engage in sexting with a minor. That kind of activity could come with sexual assault, internet solicitation or child pornography charges.
Teen sexts are a form of child pornography, a term that refers or any material that shows a person under the age of 18 engaging in sexual conduct. It’s not only a crime to share child pornography, but also to possess it by storing the material on your phone, computer or other device. A person who then crosses state lines with child pornography may also be looking at federal sex crimes.
Sexting between teens raises trickier legal issues. State law makes it a crime to possess or share a photo or video that depicts nudity and is “harmful to minors.” It doesn’t apply, however, to situations in which the person received the sext unsolicited, so long as he or she takes reasonable steps to report it and doesn’t share the sext with others.
The penalty for a first-time offenses is a simple fine. The punishment increases, eventually rising to the level of a felony, for multiple or repeat offenses. Any time a person shares a sext within a 24-hour period, it’s considered a single criminal offense.
If you or a loved one has been charged with—or is even suspected of—a sex crime in Florida, it’s vital that you seek the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can help build the strongest possible defense in the case. The earlier that you seek legal advice the better chance you have to avoiding a conviction or reducing the charges.
The Florida sex crimes lawyers at Whittel & Melton represent clients throughout the Sunshine State who have been charged with a wide variety of offenses, including sexual assault, rape and child pornography. Our attorneys work tirelessly to fight these charges head on. We have offices throughout the state, including in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Pensacola. Contact us online or call (866) 608-5529 for a free evaluation.
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