May 3, 2011
A bill to reduce “sexting” penalties for minors was passed by the Florida House on Friday. This bill would make a first violation a non-criminal offense, a second a misdemeanor and a third a felony.
The new bill would allow a minor who receives a pornographic image the chance to report it to police, parents or teachers without being charged with receiving or transmitting child pornography.
The bill now goes on to the Senate where it awaits a floor vote.
“Sexting” is electronically sending or receiving sexually explicit photos or videos of yourself or others. As it exists now, these pictures and videos can result in minors being convicted of child pornography which requires them to register as a sex offender.
Sexting has become a growing trend among Florida teens with males and females alike participating in texting sexual photos and/or racy messages to each other. While the results of these text and photo messages can be embarrassing if released into the wrong hands, they can also bring about serious criminal charges. Currently under Florida law, each image carries a felony sentence of five years behind bars. Why does the law take “sexting” so seriously? Florida courts and law enforcement agents view sexting as a child pornography case where both sexes can be held liable for their actions.
In an effort to better understand teens and their electronic activity, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy joined forces with CosmoGirl.com to survey teens and young adults about sexually suggestive texts and images. The number of teens that send or post nude or semi-nude images of themselves equates to 20 percent overall, with females pulling in 22 percent, males quantifying 18 percent and young teen girls ages 13-16 bringing in 11 percent. 39 percent of all teens are reported to have texted, emailed or instant messaged someone a sexually suggestive message. So, where do these pictures and messages end up? 71 percent of teen girls and 67 percent of teen guys who have sent or posted sexually suggestive content say they have sent or posted this content to a boyfriend or girlfriend. 21 percent of teen girls and 39 percent of teen boys say they have sent this type of content to someone they wanted to date or hook up with and 15 percent of teens have sent explicit material to someone they only knew online.
If your teenage son or daughter has been accused of child pornography due to “Sexting,” contact the Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers online or call 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).