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Teen Sexting: Should They Be Deemed Sex Offenders?

September 29, 2017, on Sex Crimes |

Within the United States, sex crimes are some of the most serious crimes a person can be accused of. A conviction for a sex crime can result not only in imprisonment, but in mandatory registration for decades or for life. Registering as a sex offender can affect every aspect of a person's life, from where the offender may live or work to what kinds of computer use are permitted.  Those accused of sex offenses need to get help from experienced Albany sex crime lawyers to fight for their future, because the stakes are so high due to draconian penalties that can be imposed.

Since a conviction as a sex offender can be so damaging to a person's future freedom and prospects, being labeled as a sex offender should be restricted only to the most serious and egregious of unlawful acts. Unfortunately, this is not what is happening.  There are laws throughout the United States which result in teenagers who engage in sexting actually being classified as sex offenders--- even, in some cases, when they send pictures of themselves.  The ACLU has come out against these laws, which have derailed the lives of many young people.

Teens Should Not be Punished as Sex Offenders for Sending Selfies

Child pornography laws are supposed to protect vulnerable young children from being abused and exploited by adults. But, the laws are being applied to young people who simply send explicit pictures of themselves. In one case, for example, a young boy sent a picture of his erect penis to an adult friend of his mother's, who made a report to the police. The young man was charged with a felony sex offense because he “dealt in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.” He was the alleged “victim,” since it was his picture that had been sent- but he was also the perpetrator of the crime. He was convicted.

This is a major problem, especially as sexting is a very common activity for young people, most of whom indicate that taking and sending explicit selfies is all in good fun. In fact, 60 percent of the boys and 64 percent of the girls who sent nude or partially nude pictures of themselves in texts said they were trying to be fun or flirtatious or were trying to joke around.

If even a small number of these teens end up being charged under child pornography laws and branded as sex offenders, the consequences will be dire.  Young people's lives will be derailed, society will foot the costs of harsh punishment for people who did not exploit anyone, and prosecutors will waste tremendous resources simply because the law doesn't properly deal with teen sexting.

When teens are accused of criminal acts in connection with sending their own pictures, these accusations must be taken very seriously. Albany sex crime lawyers can provide representation to young people accused of all types of sex offenses, so give us a call to find out how we can help you fight to maintain your reputation and freedom.

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