When parents hand their preteen or teenager a cell phone, they are not always prepared or able to fully prepare their child for the possible dangers awaiting them. One activity some teens participate in at some point is sexting. Sexting is the sending nude, partially nude or sexually explicit pictures via cell phones. With the use of cell phones that have good cameras and the ease at which pictures can travel, this can become a very big problem quickly. Unfortunately, the legal implications can be devastating as well.
Since many participants are under the age of 18, exchanging nude or partially nude pictures, receiving them or storing them can fall under the crime of sexual exploitation of children in Tennessee. Originally enacted to fight child pornography, it pertains to anyone, adult or minor, who sexts with a person younger than 18. That person may be prosecuted for distributing or making sexual images available to a minor or producing, exchanging, possessing or distributing child pornography.
Depending on the circumstances of the crime, it may also be a federal offense. Just possessing, not even taking or actively distributing the material can bring about federal charges. Federal law forbids a minor to take part in sexually explicit conduct and if parents allow it, the parents may also face federal charges.
Fortunately, sexting has had to be addressed many times and the federal prosecution of a minor is unlikely in most cases. The Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act provides that whenever possible, juveniles should be prosecuted within the state court.
If a teen has received pictures as part of a cyberbully attack, they will likely not face charges.
Although the penalties for adults are stiff, a minor facing one or more of these offenses will likely face different penalties in the juvenile court system. In order to ensure they do not have to pay more for their crime than necessary, it is imperative to have an experienced criminal defense attorney fighting for you.
It is crucial to act fast if you believe your teen may be facing charges related to sexting. You need an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney who can fight by your side. Call today for your free, initial consultation.