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Orange County Bar Association

Teenagers Can Be Prosecuted for Sending Nude Pictures of Themselves

Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo

Attention has been brought to the practice of “sexting”, where teenagers send provocative text messages or revealing pictures via cell phones. This trend has appeared in the news and in episodes of television series. While there is no specific law against teenagers sending explicit photos of themselves, prosecutors are charging individuals with distribution of child pornography based on the subject’s status as a minor. To date there has been no effort to prosecute inappropriate written messages. Sexting normally occurs when pictures of nude or semi-nude teenager are sent to another teenager; normally, the teenager posing for the pictures is usually the one taking and sending the photo. Officials are troubled by the possibility that the photo can be distributed to others without the consent of the subject and with the possibility of the minor being exploited. In Pennsylvania a court ruling is being criticized where a judge told a group of teenagers to attend a program on why sexting is wrong or face charges of child pornography. Naturally, the first line of discipline for teenagers is their parents or guardians and it seems like sexting has now become a relevant matter to be discussed at home. (See Penal Code Sections 311, 311.1, 311.2 and 311.3)

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