Top 10 Blog PostsHarris County Criminal Lawyers AssociationBoard Certified Texas Board of Legal SpecializationThe college of the State Bar of Texas - Professionalism Through EducationAmerican Bar Association - Defending Liberty Pursuing JusticeNational Association of Criminal Defense LawyersCNNClick 2 HoustonABC 13Avvo choice awardsAvvo choice awards 2018

Teens Arrested for Naked Pictures of Themselves: Time to Re-Evaluate the Law?

Posted on by

Sexting and the Law

These days, just about everyone uses a cellphone. Whether it’s for making calls, playing games or sharing photos, cellphones have become extremely common. Because these devices make it so easy to take and share photos, the practice of sexting has also become more common. People can send explicit or nude photos of themselves to anyone they want, though this practice often takes place between couples.

Because young people are big fans of the latest technology, it’s no surprise that some minors also engage in sexting. However, under the law, when minors take and distribute explicit photos of themselves, they may technically be engaging in child pornography. Several recent cases have created a great deal of controversy about the way that these cases should be handled by the courts.

Recent Cases

One of the most controversial cases involving criminal penalties for teen sexting took place in North Carolina. In Fayetteville, authorities were conducting an investigation at a high school in October 2014. While looking for evidence of sexual misconduct, investigators searched cell phones belonging to a teenage couple. At that time, they discovered that the two 16-year-olds had taken explicit photographs of themselves to exchange with one another.

Both teens were charged with producing child pornography because they were under 18 at the time. Ironically, they were considered old enough to face felony charges as adults but it was the fact that they were under 18 that made their actions illegal.

Problems With The Law

Many people feel that cases like the one described above are an overreach by law enforcement. In that cases, the teenagers could have faced years in prison and mandatory sex offender registration. Although the child pornography laws are designed to protect children, some people feel that they are actually harming children in some cases.

Some lawyers and computer experts claim that teens shouldn’t be punished for engaging in this kind of behavior within a relationship. However, the current laws in Texas and in other states create the possibility of legal prosecution for sexting.

According to Section 43.26 of the Texas Penal Code, a person who knowingly or intentionally possesses visual depictions of minors under the age of 18 who are engaging in sexual conduct may be charged with possession of child pornography. The way that the law is written means that a person who is under 18 could technically be charged for taking photos of themselves.

Possible Solutions

Some courts are taking steps to give young defendants who are charged with sexting crimes a chance to make things right. In the Fayetteville case, the young man and young woman who were charged were allowed to enter plea deals to avoid felony convictions.

This is a popular tactic in many cases. Rather than charging a consenting couple with child pornography and making them register as sex offenders, some courts allow them to:

  • Plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge
  • Pay fines
  • Attend mandatory educational classes
  • Perform community service
  • Refrain from using cellphones

In many of these cases, these punishments allow young people to avoid the stigma of a felony conviction so that they can keep their lives on track. In the Fayetteville case, and in many similar cases, defendants who comply with the court orders and serve their sentences will be allowed to have their records expunged after a certain time.

When young people face criminal charges for photographing themselves, it’s important to set up a strong legal defense. Hiring an attorney is the best way to prepare for court. An attorney may be able to explain to the court that the young couple was not attempting to break the law and that they were only acting in the confines of a romantic relationship. If this is successful, the court may agree to allow for plea deals.

If you are a minor that has been charged with child pornography, you need to contact a lawyer to properly protect yourself. Attorney Brett A. Podolsky has the experience needed to represent you and protect your rights. Contact him today at (713) 227-0087.

Discuss your case


Download Our Free Ebook Today

The New, Free Ebook From the Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky

Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky
917 Franklin St. Ste 510
Houston, TX 77002