Sex crimes and “sexting” among young people
Recent studies show that three out of every four American teens have mobile phones, and some studies show the number may actually be closer to 80%. Although those devices’ intended use may be to stay in contact with parents, it is rare to find a young person who does not use the phone to interact with his or her peers. In fact, many teens send and receive an average of 3000 text messages per month. These can include texts, pictures, and videos. With the increased availability of technology, the new practice of “sexting” is taking hold within the teenage community; youngsters send explicit images of themselves and others through the ether. The question is when does sexting stop and child pornography begin? Sex crimes experts in Pennsylvania and other states are still wrestling with this distinction. In a large number of cases, the teens sending the explicit photographs are not considered legal adults. Even those teens who are engaging in consenting sexting activities with their boyfriends and girlfriends may face serious charges for possession of child pornography. These charges can even be applied to individuals who simply take illicit pictures of their own bodies. Juvenile law advocates say that sexting should not fall under the purview of distribution or possession of child pornography. They argue that teenagers who could conceivably be in an intimate relationship should be protected from such serious allegations of sexual misconduct. Child pornography laws are designed to protect exploited minors, after all; in many consensual cases, no exploitation has occurred. These arguments may have resonated with law enforcement officers, who say that formal prosecutions appear to have dropped recently. However, some states have taken steps to criminalize sexting, which can have serious consequences. Pennsylvania teens who are facing sex crimes charges for possession of consensual photographs may benefit from the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. These professionals may be able to provide insight about appropriate legal strategies to deal with such aggressive prosecution. If you have questions about a sex crimes arrest that stemmed from “sexting” or any other related inquiry, please contact Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney Gary Gerson today for a free consultation at 412-219-6875.