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The legal consequences of underage sexting

Gracie Warda, Online Editor

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A Nude is defined as “a photo of oneself without clothing and often sent to another person as a sexual favor” by Urban Dictionary. This act, while illegal for minors, in highly participated in by teenagers.

“If you distribute sexual material, there’s a risk of seven years in prison or a $50,000 fine,” Fenton Police Chief Jason Slater said. “Possessing it is a four year felony, and any of these offenses will also put you on the sex offender list. The prosecutor’s office could choose to add on additional charges, like using the internet or computers to commit a crime.”

There is a lot of discretion in cases of sexting for minors. Potential felonies include possession, production and distribution of child pornography, using computers or the internet to commit a crime, and evidence of statutory rape.

“Ultimately, it’s up the the prosecutor’s office whether to charge offenders as a minor or as an adult,” Slater said. “They may wave them up to the adult court, depending on what they’re doing.”

Despite these possible consequences, according to The New York Times, close to 25 percent of teens have admitted to participating in sexting of some form; admitted being the key word.

“Never once that I’ve done it have I thought about the legal consequences,” *sophomore Sue Smith said. “That’s not really on my mind at that point.”

Although, some people have questioned the fairness of the laws in place. Statutory rape is punishable by eight years in prison, while distribution/possession/production of child pornography has been penalized by 10 years in some cases.

“I don’t think that there’s a big difference in maturity between a 17 year old and an 18 year old,” *Smith said. “If it’s consensual, and both people are mature enough to handle it, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me.”

The law has struggled to keep up with the changes that technology brings to the table.

“When these laws were put in place, minors sending nude pictures to one another wasn’t in the forefront,” Slater said.

Despite the questions about the rightfulness of laws regarding sexting, Michigan Legislature 750.145 C4-A and 750.145 D2-A clearly outline the dangers of sexting as a minor.

*Name and grade changed for privacy purposes.

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1 Comment

One Response to “The legal consequences of underage sexting”

  1. mike warda on May 19th, 2018 6:24 AM

    Wow, 25%. Very disturbing.