One of the unfortunate realities of easy access to Internet and electronic communications is that there is more opportunity for young people to get in trouble. This is particularly true when it comes to “sexting,” which has become a rather common occurrence among teens in Florida and across the country.
Under Florida law, it is illegal for minors to knowingly using a computer or other mobile device to send photographs or videos depicting nudity to another minor, or to possess such material sent by another minor. The law provides that a minor cannot be charged with sexting if he or she did not solicit the images, took reasonable steps to report the material to a guardian, school or to the police, and did not send the material to another party.
For minors, a first offense is not charged as a criminal violation, but rather as a civil infraction. Minors either appear in juvenile court or complete community service and satisfy other imposed penalties. A subsequent violation of Florida sexting law does constitute a crime, specifically a first degree misdemeanor, and a subsequent offense is charged as a third degree felony.
Obviously, minors who are charged for criminal violations of Florida’s sexting law need to secure strong legal representation to ensure they have the best chance at resolving their case favorably so that their future isn’t determined by an instance of poor judgment.
Things can get serious quickly, though, when sexting depicts sexual activity of minors. In such cases, whether a minor or an adult is sending the images or videos, the offense can be charged as child pornography. In a future post, we’ll look at this issue and the important role an experienced criminal defense attorney can play.