Can my Teenage Son or Daughter Face Criminal Charges for Sexting with Another Teen?
Today, text messages and social media are how we communicate. For many teenagers, this is the primary, even sole means of communication with certain friends. Many young people entering their first relationships and navigating the world of dating and sex engage in sexually explicit messaging, also known as “sexting,” with partners and potential partners. When sexting involves sharing nude photos and other explicit content, it can be charged as a sex crime. When one of the parties is a legal adult, it is a child pornography offense.
Examples of Sexting
Sharing videos of oneself engaged in sexual activity, such as intercourse or oral sex;
- Taking and sending naked photos of oneself;
- Asking another minor for nude photos of him or her;
- Asking another minor for nude photos of another minor; and
- Sharing photos or videos of others naked or involved in sexual acts, whether they are peers or images taken from the internet depicting strangers, to another minor.
Florida’s Sexting Law
In many states, sending and receiving sexually explicit text messages and other communications is a child pornography charge, even if both parties involved in the exchange are underage and consented to the sharing of explicit photos. Recognizing that teenage sexting is not the same as seeking and possessing child pornography in the traditional sense, some states have enacted specific laws regarding this issue. Florida is one of those states.
In Florida, an individual under the age of 18 may be found guilty of sexting if he or she knowingly uses a computer or another electronic device to distribute an image or video depicting nudity or sexual acts to another minor. This can be a non-criminal offense, a first degree misdemeanor, or a third degree felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. A minor can also be charged with sexting if he or she received this type of material from another minor, but if he or she did not solicit the content or share it with others and took reasonable steps to involve an adult, such as a law enforcement officer or a parent, he or she is not guilty of sexting.
Previously, minors who were found guilty of sexting were required to register as sex offenders. Under Florida’s current teen sexting law, this is not the case for most offenders. Penalties for sexting can include fines and community service. In more extreme cases, they can involve jail time for the guilty defendant.
Work with an Experienced Miami Juvenile Defense Lawyer
As technology advances and our social exchanges change to meet it, our laws must keep up. And as our laws and criminal justice system keep up with our changing reality, so do our legal defense strategies. If your child has been charged with sexting, contact an experienced Miami juvenile defense lawyer today to start working on his or her defense strategy. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo today to schedule your initial consultation with a member of our team.