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What is “Sexting” and How Can it Lead to Criminal Charges?

What is “Sexting” and How Can it Lead to Criminal Charges?With the mass use of cellphones by teenagers and young adults, laws have had to be modernized to stay relevant and effective. Pornography involving people younger than 18 has long been banned in the U.S. Such content has become even more easily created and accessible now that cellphones are in the hands of adolescents. The convenience of built-in cameras and instant messaging has paved the way for a modern phenomenon known as “sexting.” Taking and disseminating sexually explicit photos is common among today’s teens. On average, one in five teens has sent or posted semi-nude or nude videos or pictures of themselves. Unsurprisingly, many of these teens do not realize the serious allegations and penalties that come along with this explicit content.

Guilty Parties

The consequences for possessing sexually explicit content of minors extend to a number of individuals, including the photographer, the sender, and the recipient. The following are possible charges that one could face in Illinois:

  1. The Photographer: It is fairly obvious that whoever is the one taking the photos or videos can face serious consequences because they are the initiating party. A person who knowingly videotapes or photographs a minor who is engaged in a sexual act or is in a compromising position, nude or semi-nude, is committing the offense of child pornography. In some states, if the content is captured by the individual themselves, commonly known as a selfie, they are protected by law. Illinois does not recognize this exception and thus sexually explicit selfies can be self-incriminating. Anyone who has created child pornography has committed a Class 1 felony, punishable by at least four years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
  2. The Recipient: Many believe that those on the receiving end of such content should not face punishment since they are not responsible for the creation of the content. Those on the receiving end of things may have committed one or more felonies under the Illinois Pornography Act, depending on the circumstances. For instance, if a minor’s significant other entices or solicits them to send a sexually explicit photo or video, they have committed a child pornography offense. Possessing such photos or videos, knowing that the person is a minor, is a common offense, though claiming that the possession was involuntary may be used as a defense tactic.
  3. The Forwarder: Unfortunately, many of these pornographic photos do not stay between the sender and the recipient. It is common for such content to be sent to friends and other students. No matter how distant the connection between the photographer, initial sender, and continuous forwarding parties, anyone who disseminates this content to others violates child pornography laws.

Call a Wheaton Sex Crime Defense Lawyer

Child pornography charges are some of the most serious sex crimes that one can commit due to the inclusion of a minor in the explicit content. Those involving sexting are often committed by adolescents who are ignorant of the potential legal ramifications that they could face. This ignorance can greatly affect their futures, making it difficult to get into college or find a job later in life. Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, has assisted numerous clients in fighting against sex crime accusations and has tried-and-true defense tactics for such charges. If your child is facing child pornography charges as a result of sexting, contact our DuPage County juvenile defense attorneys at 630-260-9647 to schedule a consultation.

Sources:

https://www.isba.org/ibj/2010/04/sextingitsnojokeitsacrime#22

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/072000050K11-20.1.htm

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