Sexting Between Minors – Is It A Crime?
With modern technology, it is very easy to communicate via text, photo, and video. This includes sending sexually explicit material between mobile devices—a practice known as “sexting.” Sexting is a growing concern for parents, educators, and law enforcement officials. The practice can start as a harmless way to flirt but quickly become something more serious.
Although the law is clear that an adult sexting with a minor would be considered a criminal activity, many states have yet to address what happens when minors engage in this type of behavior. So, what if you think that your child might be sexting with another minor? In many cases, according to Florida statutes, this is still considered a crime.
Upon taking inspection at the lawbooks, Florida Statute 847.0141 states that a minor commits the offense of sexting if he or she:
- Is in possession of nude or sexually explicit photos or video transmitted by another minor, or
- Knowingly transmits or distributes nude or sexually explicit photos or videos to another minor
A minor who receives nude images without asking for or soliciting them will not be charged with a crime if he or she reports the incident to a legal guardian, school counselor, or law enforcement officer and does not distribute the images. If the minor is not in possession of nude or sexually explicit photos or videos and does not knowingly transmit them to another minor then he or she will be charged with a misdemeanor, obviously, but let’s get into what can happen if a teen really has gotten into hot water.
Keep in mind that sexting is a serious offense and should not be taken lightly. In situations where it’s consensual, this might not seem like such a big deal, but because of cases where “revenge porn” or the case where such an image gets leaked to a number of students, it cannot be handled with anything but the utmost seriousness.
Minors are typically issued a citation for possession of child pornography on the first offense, with community service or a $60 fine. Possession of child pornography is typically considered a misdemeanor for any subsequent offenses and may be prosecuted as felony-level if it involves buying or selling images of children engaged in sexual acts.
Forty-nine states have laws prohibiting the creation, distribution or possession of child pornography. Florida is one of only five states that also has a felony charge for sexting, and be aware that if photos or videos depict sexual conduct, then the first offense would be considered felony status and result in harsher penalties than if it were not accompanied by such images.
Teens should be told that, although sexting may seem like a harmless game of “show me yours and I’ll show you mine,” it is anything but harmless, and can land them in serious trouble. The legal system can be a confusing place to navigate when you are unfamiliar with it. If your child is charged with any crime, including sexting or cyberbullying, you have the right to seek an attorney who understands how minors can best protect their interests in court, so come see us at Tampa Crime Attorneys and we’ll get you straightened out.