Many parents are in denial when it comes to sexting. They think their children would never do such a thing, but sexting is more common than they think. Approximately 40 percent of teens have sexted at some point. While boys do it more often than girls, girls are more likely to send nude photos. Seventy percent of these teens send the texts to their boyfriend or girlfriend. The majority of girls, however, do it as a joke.
Sexting is no laughing matter in Florida, though. While the first offense is a non-criminal violation, a subsequent offense could result in misdemeanor and even felony charges. A teen could spend many years in prison and be forced to register as a sex offender.
While it’s important to protect one’s privacy, the laws may be too strict in this case. Sexting is being equated to child porn, when it is often simply two peers acting like teens. A teen sending and receiving sexually suggestive texts and photos should not be treated as a hardened criminal.
If you’re a parent of a teen, read on to learn more about the laws regarding sexting in Florida so you can educate your child about the consequences and prevent them from getting in trouble with the law.
What the Law Says
Under Florida Statutes 847.0141, sexting between minors is prohibited. A minor can be charged with sexting if he or she uses a cell phone, tablet, computer or other electronic device to send nude images or photos to another minor. A person in possession of these images can also be charged with sexting, so both the sender and recipient could face charges.
However, there are some instances when a recipient may not face charges. If a minor is in receipt of a nude photo, but did not solicit it or forward it to a third party, and took steps to report it to a parent, the school or law enforcement, then he or she is not in violation of the law.
A first offense is considered a violation punishable by eight hours of community service, a $60 fine and/or educational classes on the dangers of sexting. If the person is charged with a second offense, the charge is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. A third offense is charged as a third degree felony. The punishment becomes hefty, with five years of prison and five years of probation. There is also a $5,000 fine and the person could be forced to register as a sex offender. Images sent within a 24-hour period are treated as a single offense.
The law does not apply when two consenting adults are sexting. However, it can become child porn if one person is an adult and the other is a minor.
Contact an Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney
Teens will be teens, but when it comes to sending sexually explicit photos, it’s best to avoid this practice if you are under 18. Florida has some of the strictest laws in this regard, and you could end up with a felony charge and forced registry as a sex offender if you’re not careful.
If your teen is facing texting charges, seek legal help right away. The aggressive Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law will work to protect your rights. Contact our offices today at (407) 377-0150 to see how we can help you with your case.