Written by attorney John D. Jones

SB 277 Gives Minors Misdemeanor For Inappropriate Texting

Any parent of a teenager in the modern era of instant and high definition technology has concerns about the manner in which their child or children are utilizing this technology. Although we as parents always hope to raise moral children, it is unrealistic to think that our children will never send inappropriate material via email or text message from their cell phone. Webcams and camera phones make it so easy. Prior to the most recent Legislative session, “teenagers being teenagers" could have resulted in serious long-term implications. The prior law would have resulted in a teenager who sent an adult image of themselves or another minor, to any other minor, to be prosecuted to endure a felony prosecution and be registered as a sex offender. Fortunately, the Legislature recognizing the realities of the technology age in which we currently live, have modified the law to ensure that irreparable harm is not suffered by a teenager merely being a teenager.

The new law established in SB 277 still prohibits a minor from electronically transmitting a sexual image of himself/herself to another person and other related behaviors. The punishment for such transgressions, however, is no longer so onerous and long term. Such transgressions by minors will no longer be felonies or result in sex offender registration. Whereas parents of teenagers can certainly make it clear to our children that the texting of inappropriate images is a serious crime, in the event they do not heed our warnings, there is no longer such far reaching damage.

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