Sexting is the transmission of sexually explicit images or videos over text messages or via the use of an electronic device. Because we live in a technologically savvy world, sexting is not uncommon. Most of the time it is meant to be an innocent act, even a joke. However, there are certain circumstances where sexting can lead to legal trouble in the state of Florida. Our Tampa criminal defense law firm covers the sexting laws and the consequences associated with the charges.
Sexting Laws Explained
The legality of sexting largely depends on the age of the parties involved. Typically, when two consulting adults engage in sexting, it is considered legal. Minors are a different story.
According to a new Florida law, anyone younger than the age of 18 may be charged with sexting if he or she knowingly sends images or videos depicting sexual conduct or nudity to another minor. To make matters worse, merely possessing these images or videos could be considered criminal unless the following is evident:
- The minor did not send the images or videos to another party.
- The minor did not solicit the images or videos.
- The minor reported or took reasonable steps to report the incident to the proper authorities.
According to a recent report, 40 percent of teenagers have engaged in sexting at some point. Most of these acts were meant to be innocent, however, it is critically important for parents and teens to understand Florida sexting laws as well as the associated consequences.
Sexting violations may lead to significant penalties. Call the former Prosecutor, now defense attorney, Ben Stechschulte to defend your case.
Consequences of Sexting Violations
First Offense Minors
For sexting, first offense charges for minors are typically cited as a noncriminal violation, and instead of attending juvenile court, he or she would typically work community service hours and pay a fine. However, if the minor fails to comply with the citation, it could result in additional penalties.
Subsequent Offense Minors
If the minor has already been charged with a noncriminal violation for sexting, the second offense would result in a misdemeanor in the first degree and a visit to the juvenile detention center.
A third or subsequent incident would be considered a felony and could result in a prison sentence up to five years, significant fines, and the loss of certain rights such as owning a weapon.
Adults and Sexting
If an adult sends an image or video of a minor who is engaged in sexual acts, it is considered child pornography and a third-degree felony – a charge which carries significant consequences such as jail time, fines, and a position on the sex offender registry.
In addition to Florida state law, several federal laws that apply to sexting – one of which is the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today Act (a.k.a. PROTECT). This act makes it illegal to possess or distribute obscene images of a minor.
Tampa, FL Criminal Defense Law Firm
Sexting laws in Florida will continue to evolve, and therefore it is important to know your rights and the rights of your minor children. If you have been charged with a sexting crime, it is imperative to speak to a criminal defense attorney immediately.
For more information on our South Tampa law firm or to schedule a free case review, please call our law office today at 813-280-1244.