Currently, a minor caught transmitting or possessing images of another minor on their phone can be charged with felony child pornography. Considering the popularity of the albeit troubling trend of “sexting”, the current laws could serve to criminalize numerous teens engaged in the practice. A new bill would change that.
Texas State Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin) has introduced legislation that would reduce juvenile sexting (transmitting nude or explicit photos via text message) to a misdemeanor charge for a first time offender. And if charged under the new law, a judge would have the discretion to send the teen (and a parent) to a class on the dangers of sexting.
Sentator Watson worked in conjunction with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on the legislation who states he didn’t know of any cases where teens have been charged with the current 3rd degree felony sex offense crime yet.
AG Abbot calls the sexting phenomena a trend rather than a crime, a “dangerous trend” he learned about after discussing it with his young sons. According to this report from the Houston Chronicle about 22% of teen girls surveyed in 2008 had sent sexually explicit images of themselves via text message—a frightening statistic to be sure.
But criminalizing kids for such action is not the smartest solution. If the new legislation passes a child could still be charged with a crime for sexting but it’s far less impactful than a felony charge. Also, under the proposed bill teens could apply to have the charged expunged from their record at a later date.
There are many things that kids can be prosecuted for these days that they would’ve only received a suspension from school for just 20 years ago. And while the behaviors of kids have changed a little, criminalizing acts that can be resolved by other means seems the most prudent thing to do.
When your child is brought into the juvenile justice system, it can be a very frightening time. Knowing what your teen is facing and helping them walk out of the system with minimal negative effects can be easier with the assistance of a local defense lawyer.
Although the juvenile system can be a difficult place to navigate, your child is not without options. If you or your child is facing criminal charges, contact our offices today for a free consultation on the case.