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Former State Prosecutor and Criminal Trial Attorney

Former State Prosecutor

Former Atlantic County Prosecutor

Certified Criminal Trial Attorney

Experienced for over 35 years

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Sexting Defense Attorney in South Jersey

Skilled Atlantic County Lawyer Defends Clients Charged with Sexting and Other Cybercrimes in Atlantic & Cape May Counties

Thanks to a wide variety of social media platforms, today’s teens are connected 24/7 to anyone and everyone. With a few clicks or swipes, your kid, safely tucked in bed, for example, may very well be texting, Facebook-ing, Instagramming, Snapchatting and more with people all over the world. Oftentimes, they are just communicating with friends. But, kids will be kids. When social media activity involves transmission of sexually explicit content or nude photos, it’s illegal. That’s called “sexting.”

If your child is facing sexting or another child pornography charge, including possession and distribution of child pornography or invasion of privacy, they could be facing jail time and mandatory sex offender registration. You need to hire an aggressive criminal defense lawyer who knows New Jersey’s specific laws and is familiar with the courts in Atlantic County and Cape May County. An attorney who will fight to protect your child’s rights.

Contact Criminal lawyer, John W. Tumelty, for a free consultation about charges relating to sexting and other juvenile criminal offenses in Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, Ocean City, Brigantine and Margate and throughout South Jersey.

What Is Sexting and Why Is It a Crime?

Technology is an amazing thing that is evolving faster than the speed of light. However, like anything else – with the good comes the bad. Thanks to the mini-handheld computer you walk around with in your pocket all the time, a.k.a. your smartphone, you are plugged in 24/7. So is your teenager.

In New Jersey, anyone who uses technology – including texting or emailing – to share nude or sexually suggestive photos of people under the age of 18 may face child pornography charges. These laws traditionally target adult sexual predators, but more recently are being used to charge teens who “sext” with other teens. Going one step further, anyone under the age of 18 who texts, emails or posts sexually explicit or nude photos of themselves can be charged with distribution of child pornography.

Teens think it’s a joke – harmless experimentation. Unfortunately, New Jersey law enforcement officials aren’t laughing. The problem is reportedly rampant throughout New Jersey in middle and high schools. Though schools are attempting to educate kids about the dangers of sexting, many teens don’t truly understand the consequences of their actions – until they get caught.

Getting caught usually happens when the “joke” goes viral and the person in the photos begins to be bullied and harassed. Sexting can have a long-term impact on someone’s reputation; we all know that the Internet is forever.

There are also federal penalties that may arise out of sexting charges. According to the PROTECT Act of 2003 (Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today), it is illegal to “produce, distribute, receive, or possess with intent to distribute any obscene visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Knowing possession of such material—without intent to distribute—is also a crime under the PROTECT Act.” (18 U.S.C. § 1466A(a)(1).)

South Jersey Defense Lawyer Explains the Damage Sexting May Cause in Wildwood, Stone Harbor and throughout NJ

Sexting usually begins as an innocent activity. No one intended for anyone to get hurt. In fact, often, the child who started everything by texting or posting the photos was only looking for attention. As a simple example, here’s how quickly sexting can spread:

  • Mary takes a topless photo of herself and sends it to a boy she likes, Mike.
  • Mike opens the text, see the photo and sends it to two of his pals, Bill and Joe.

Neither of these actions are nefarious. However, both are illegal. Now, here’s where the problem really gets bad.

  • Bill shows the photo to his girlfriend who decides to make Mary pay for getting her boyfriend’s attention with a nude pic. She posts Mary’s photo online.
  • Now, countless underage kids are seeing the photo. Everyone involved in spreading the content can be charged with distribution of child pornography. And, Mary’s reputation is tanked. A sexting charge will likely impact her in the future regarding college admission, the ability to rent an apartment, land a job, etc. Information sent into cyberspace is permanent.

In this scenario, you may think Mary is the victim. And, you would be correct. However, she also is the person who started the distribution of the photo. She may be charged with distribution of child pornography.

Why is it child pornography? In New Jersey the laws are clear. According to N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:24-4.: “a person who causes a child (a person younger than 18) to engage in a sexual act or appear nude for the purpose of making a photograph or film, or who photographs or films a child nude or engaging in sexual conduct, commits the crime of child pornography (also called endangering the welfare of a child). It is also a crime to give to someone else, offer to give to someone else, transfer, disseminate, distribute, circulate, or possess pornography depicting a child.”

New Jersey Institutes Diversionary Program for Teen Sexters

As serious as sexting charges are, New Jersey recognizes these activities are usually innocent mistakes gone horribly wrong. Contact experienced criminal defense lawyer John W. Tumelty to discuss New Jersey’s diversion program for teens charged with sexting. Mr. Tumelty may be able to help your child avoid incarceration and mandatory Megan’s Law registration requirements.

New Jersey’s diversion program is aimed at teens charged with child pornography crimes relating to sexting. If your child is able to enter this program, upon recommendation of a judge, your child can participate in an educational/counseling program that addresses sexting issues. The diversionary program is only an option if the creator of the distribution of content and the subject of the photo are both under 18 years old.

Contact John W. Tumelty Right Away for Aggressive Legal Representation for Teen Sexting Charges in Atlantic & Cape May Counties in New Jersey

Sexting, however childish, is a serious matter that has potentially very serious consequences. If your child or teenager is facing sexting or other child pornography-related charges, do not hesitate another moment. Hire an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer who will fight for inclusion in NJ’s diversionary sexting program. Your child’s reputation and future may be at stake.

John W. Tumelty has three offices: Atlantic City, Somers Point and Marmora, NJ. He will consult with you by phone or in person for free about your child’s charges. Contact him immediately so he can begin the process of protecting your child’s future.

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