Law Offices of Elliott Kanter
Can My Child Be Charged with Child Pornography for Sexting?
Several studies have pointed out that sexting is extremely common among teenagers. Sexting is the process of using electronic devices, especially smart phones, tabs, and other devices to exchange nude, or explicit pictures of other teens. Teenagers, unfortunately, may not realize the dangers of these practices.
Your child could be charged under California child pornography laws if he or she is found with a semi- nude or nude image of another teen on his phone or other device. Under California law, child pornography is defined as any matter or material depicting sexual conduct by a person under the age of 18. It can take the form of film strips, photographs, negatives, slides, photocopies, videotapes, computer hardware or software, or computer generated images. Sexting often involves sending pictures of an exposed body part, which under California law, qualifies as child pornography because it is the “exhibition of the genitals or rectal area for the purpose of sexual stimulation.”
These charges may arise out of innocent fun. For instance, a girl may send her boyfriend nude pictures on a smartphone. Something as innocent as this could have the potential to result in criminal charges. Facing charges of child pornography? Talk to a criminal defense lawyer in San Diego.
The only exception to these rules is if the two minors are spouses, in which case they are not violating child pornography laws, or if the minor is legally emancipated. To prove guilt, a prosecutor must show the defendant was aware of the nature of the sexual material in his possession and was aware the person depicted in the material was under the age of 18. In most child pornography cases, this can be difficult to prove, but in sexting cases such as these, it is not hard for a prosecutor to prove the child was aware of the other person’s age and the nature of the material, since it usually occurs between classmates or friends.
As a parent, it is important to you to discuss responsible behavior on social media, and while using smart phones, and other electronic devices. Monitor your children’s use of the Internet, especially their use of social media. If you notice your children uploading suggestive or explicit pictures of themselves on social media, warn them against doing so, and talk to them about the risks of sending such pictures to others, using smartphones.
Make no mistake – law enforcement has actually moved to file child pornography charges in cases involving teen sexting, across the country. Remember, that there are no specific laws that ban the practice of sexting in California. However, if your child is caught with nude images of a teen below the age of 18, then he could be charged under general child pornography laws. He could be charged with a felony, and penalties for a conviction could include prison time and a fine.
If your child has been arrested for sexting, or for possession of explicit images of teens, get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer in San Diego immediately.