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A Troubling Trend: Teens are Being Prosecuted for Sexting

Monday Nov 21st, on Sex Crimes |

Laws against the sexual exploitation of a minor, or any laws relating to child pornography, exist for the purpose of protecting children. Very serious penalties are imposed on those who are convicted of being involved with child porn in any way -- which is why it is so important to talk with an attorney if you're accused of child porn crimes. 

The serious penalties for these crimes are justified on the basis that exploitation of minors can cause significant damage. Unfortunately, these laws are not just being used to protect children --they are actually being used to prosecute them.

The problem is that these laws are being used now to bring charges against people who are underage and are actually sending pictures of themselves. Police and prosecutors are going after teenagers for the common practice of sexting, but these charges can ruin the lives of young people.

That said, parents whose children are accused of criminal offenses related to sexting need to get legal help as soon as possible from a federal child pornography defense lawyer who can help to try to fight for their children's future.

A Closer Look at the Problem

Rolling Stone published a comprehensive report recently about cases in which teenagers have been charged with serious sex crimes for sending pictures of themselves.  The article explains that “when the sexting panic hit in the late 2000s, prosecutors started charging kids with child pornography for photographing and filming themselves in consensual acts.”

This issue has not gone away, and just recently, prosecutors threatened to charge a 14-year-old teenage girl with sexually exploiting a minor because she had sent a suggestive picture of herself in underwear and a sports bra, as well as a suggestive picture of herself in underwear with no top on and her hair covering her breasts.

This problem has arisen because minors are not exempt from child pornography laws, which means overzealous prosecutors can use the laws to threaten teens or actually follow through with prosecuting them.

For example, in one 2010 case, three teens had to go to court to fight a prosecutor who threatened them with criminal charges if they did not participate in a diversion program, write an essay and agree to probation. The girls had taken pictures of themselves in their underwear and did not agree to the prosecutor's requests, despite the fact the prosecutor argued his actions were needed to protect the girls from themselves.

Instead of acquiescing to the prosecutor's demands, the three girls sought a restraining order against the prosecutor, which they were granted and which was upheld by a federal appeals court.

Teens should not have to face threats of prosecution or be forced to respond to serious criminal charges just for taking pictures of their own bodies.  This is especially true when the crimes they are threatened with could leave them branded as sex offenders. If a teen is charged or accused of a crime related to sexting, parents need to contact an experienced child pornography defense attorney as soon as possible. Let The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC help.

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