Today’s teenagers are never far from their cell phones. They’re constantly texting, tweeting, Instagramming and snapping “selfie” after “selfie.” Most of your teen’s cell phone activity is likely innocent, but a disturbing trend could land them in hot water. “Sexting” is the practice of sending sexually suggestive photos and messages, and many hormone-ridden teens may not realize the ramifications.
It is illegal to send or receive nude photos of a minor, regardless of who has taken the photos. That means that even if the photo is a “selfie,” if the sender is under 18 they are breaking child pornography laws.
New Jersey enacted a teen sexting law in 2012 that created a diversion program to be used in lieu of criminal prosecution for teens facing criminal charges as a result of sexting. These teens may be ordered to participate in counseling and educational programs.
The diversion program, however, is granted at the discretion of a judge. This means that if the violation of the law is more severe – for instance, if the case involves older teens posting explicit photos of others on public websites – criminal prosecution could still occur.
Teenagers value their privacy, but as a parent you must emphasize that they should value their freedom more. Educate your children on the legal ramifications of sexting.
If your child has been charged with a crime related to sexting or cyberbullying, contact the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty at 609.385.4010 for a free initial consultation about the case.