Sexting Teens facing felony charges for misuse of cell phones

It’s a well documented fact that many teens and young adults have found themselves entangled in legal nightmares as a result of cell phones being used to transmit sexually graphic texts or images. If you are a parent of a teen ...

... you may find insights into the "Why's" of sexting in an article posted March 23, 2009 at
Why teens Sext

What is Sexting?

According to the Urban Dictionary “Sexting” is a term created by the media referring to sending sexually explicit text messages. The term is used by adults who are out of the loop and not by the individuals (often teens) who are actually sending the explicit messages.

What ever you call it, sexting, sextexting, sextextuals, or sext messages, for many parents and teenagers it may well be a sextastropy.

So what kind of legal hot water can a teen find themselves in? These legal entanglements range in severity from federal and state criminal indictments to civil legal battles and have resulted in teens being convicted of felonies and misdemeanors receiving sentences of incarceration in Juvenal prison, or some other type of punishment. Some are now required to register as sex offenders.

It goes without saying that the chain of events that unfolds in our juvenile justice court rooms across the nation involving “sexting” are as different as the people entangled in them. The legal ramifications and outcomes vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; however, if they are mostly due to an adolescents poor judgment, lack of knowledge, or general misuse of a cell phone, then it stands to reason many of these situations are completely avoidable. We all know teens don't necessarily follow all the rules, but at a minimum, they should be educated on the possible consiquence and the laws they may be violating.

In our view, unless other mitigating circumstances exist, teens should not be forced to register as sex offenders for acts obviously brought about by ill-advised adolescent behavior and poor judgment. This is NOT what the sex offender registration program was intended for. We need law makers to take a good look at this and come up with sensible standards. We need family court judges to have lattitude in sentencing these types of blunders where juveniles are concerned on a case by case basis. Yes, there are some youth out there who are violent sex offenders and certainly, they should be treated as such; however, there are many circumstances where, in our view, felony convictions and sex offender registration is not justified.

One judge took the right approach and he is to be commended for his wisdom and courage. Judge Thomas F O’Malley in Cleveland took what we felt was a very productive, useful approach in sentencing eight suburban teens (ages 14, 15, and 16) from Mayfield and Highland heights in the fall of 2008.

These teens were taking provocative nude photos of themselves and sending them through their cell phones to their boyfriends or girl friends. They knew they could get in trouble for it, but did not know they could be charged with a felony. The parents, in complete shock over the photos, didn’t know their kids could be charged with felonies until the prosecuting attorney educated them on the realities for violating obscenity laws.

Under a special sentencing plan agreed on by Judge O’Malley, the defense attorney’s and the prosecuting attorney’s, every teen was ordered to survey 25 other teens in their school to educate them and report back whether they knew having, viewing or sending explicit photos of a minor over a cell phone could result in a felony conviction and incarceration in juvenile jail. In addition, they were mandated get counseling and be assessed under the same guidelines for cases considered sexual offenses. If they comply with the sentencing, the charges will be dismissed.

The teens will come back into Judge O’Malley’s court after a given time to compile the results and present their results. The results may be used to educate other teens in their community and beyond.

A national survey release in December 2008 about sex, technology and teens showed that 20% of teens surveyed had electronically transmitted nude or provocative photos of themselves via internet post or cell phone. 40% had sent sexually evocative texts or instant messages.

If you think you see most of the horror stories on misuse of cell phones in the news and media today, you'd be mistaken. The simple fact is, 99% of these cases never hit the news. The reality is, misuse of cell phones has destroy people’s lives, or at a minimum, turn their lives completely upside down. The actions that cause this destruction are not exclusive to teens. Some adults are just as prone to poor judgment, only they don’t get to talk to a family court judge, they get a criminal court judge. Different rules entirely.

We are conducting research in all 50 states to obtain state laws on cell phone related issues. For many states, there are new cell phone laws being passed. All states are adapting cellular phone laws not only for driving issues, but for privacy issues too.

Sexlaws Research Team
S. Frances
2009-03-08 08:53:56 -0800

Sex & Tech Teen Voices
Sex & Tech Survey pdf DOWNLOAD

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 11/20/2011 - 12:15.

how would you feel if your grandma saw what you wrote or the pictures you took?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:33.

Nobody needs to know that you've sent multiple pictures to multiple guys, it makes you have the wrong image.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 10/30/2011 - 00:02.

Your hormones are what makes it wrong when your over 18 they might be more leniant but as a young teenager your mind is still developing and wont be fully developed until your 21. Thats why only some of your rights are given at 18, and you get the rest at 21. Having something done like this might scar you when you do something you really shouldn't have done. Now if you were older and were more aware of the things going on in the area and laws set in the state and country, it would be easier for you to decide what to do now that you are technicaly required at the age of 18 to understand the law. They don't tell you to read it because they expect you to know it as a citizen of the U.S. Same with, a School, they hand you the rules, and when you get punished for a broken rule they expect to to have known you broke it because they gave you the rule, and it was the students responsibility to read it. Put it from a Governments point of veiw and try and look at other cases where it could have been the start of rape, or invasion of privacy, even though, theres no where in the law that specifically states you have the right to privacy, the U.S. citizens believe so and will therefore create laws that protect their "Privacy". The only rights a minor has are the three natural rights, life, libery, and property.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/28/2011 - 09:00.

You are sick, and need help. Get some counseling.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/20/2011 - 21:48.

With you being 15, thats CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, anyone over the age of 18, being ADULTS, can sext.

Submitted by sdcs15 (not verified) on Tue, 09/20/2011 - 14:01.

Regardless of whether or not sexting should become a legal matter, sexting among teens is a serious issue especially if you are a parent. Sexting can be tough to track. Only one in seven sexters has been caught having sent or received these types of messages, most commonly by a parent. If you are worried about your child, there's actually a mobile app called AmberWatch SafeText that allows parents to monitor their child’s mobile device for instances of sexting in a safe, trusted manner. You can find it online at the AmberWatch SafeText website.

Submitted by lovining mom that cares about all (not verified) on Tue, 04/10/2012 - 07:16.

Thank you for your information. My child was one of the seven caught. I took her phone away because I found her to be texting up to 3am in the morning. After the next day I went thru the phone. Its my phone I pay for it I make the payments every month. I just never thought it would be my child. Now I am working with the P.D. to help find these strangers she met on an app on her phone. She is 16. I have also set up many doctor appointments to get her help. I found that these kids think it is a game. IT IS NOT!!! They can find you. You give to much information and you will end up with someone at your door. IF Mom and Dad are not at home all the time or you work and tell. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WHEN THEY COME AND TAKE YOU AWAY? DRUG YOU, RAPE YOU, BEAT YOU AND SALE YOU TO SOMEONE SO THEY CAN DO THE SAME? Its not just people you know that kids are doing this with stangers. Please feel to reply! Because if you do your homework and look online there are cases of it happening. It can happen to anyone one that gives out to much information.

Submitted by Nyx (not verified) on Thu, 07/26/2012 - 04:54.

If your daughter is in her right mind and is mature for her age then she would realize the risk of doing things like that. I myself am 15 and have meet online people and have sext to them under full realization that they could be rapist, kidnappers, pedophiles ect. If your daughter is 16 and ignorant to that truth you should not have gotten her a cell phone, personal computer and/or lap top. I mean no disrespect but overprotective parents that do not worn there children open giving them such freedoms shouldn't be getting all mad at the world for your daughters ignorece. And if she new the possible consequences you should let her be and let her learn from expirence.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 00:59.

im 16 and in the state I live in I can have sex w/ a 55yr old and it's PERFECTLY legal as long as their not my coach, teacher, boss, or some1 in authority over me. but if I send a nude pic to another 16 yr old its a felony and I'm now a sex offender. does that make any sense? no not at all. law makers are the stupidest ppl in the fucking world.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/10/2011 - 22:38.

Sexting, What the law should be.
1) Any minor can send pictures of them self to a partner as long as they have less then a 4 year age difference.
2) Parents Punish kids
3) If forcing to sext it is automatically illegal.
4) If the partner that receives the messages sends them to ANYONE that the Sender doesn't agree on, Its illegal.
5) If the partners break up and the sender wants the pictures deleted off the phone/ device the person must agree and delete the photos for good.

Sexting happens anyways. Kids WILL fallow these rules. If you make it illegal they will just do it anyways.... At least make it a little safer to them without getting them sent to jail for something they did when they were 13 - 16 because they were curious..

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/10/2011 - 22:24.

Okay you say we arnt mature enough? Well let us find that out. STOP PROTECTING US. We dont want are parents stepping in for us and saying " hey lets ban sexting! " Cause
1) If you say dont do it. Were gunna do it. Its like a fact.
2) All the kids will just text and say " hey come over and we can sext in person."
This is gunna cause underage pregnancy. At least you cant get and STD over a text. Plus if she dose it to one guy she probably will do it to the whole school anyways. Its addicting. So Really Leave sex as sex and sexting as sexting.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 08/07/2011 - 20:48.

i think these laws should be more towards 14 year olds who are sending pictures to like 19 year olds. if the pictures never get seen by people other than the two people that had them originally, it should be fine. now people that forward the pictures around to everyone should get charged.only send these type of pictures to someone you definetley trust and you should have no legal problems.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/02/2011 - 09:55.

Sexting though can get out of hand. I actually jus got in trouble yesterdai night becasue of a whole issue with sexting and pictures. I am now gunna have to go to juvinal or whatever over all the B.S that happend.I advise to everyone who is sexting and sending pictures to watch who you send it to and DON'T GET CAUGHT! I'm 13 years old and my parents are very hard on me...especially my dad. So i think i need to watch out. And since i'm a minor i think it's worse. And I mean i got in trouble for talking to an 18 year old. But we don't go that way. He's like a big brother to me ! and i look up to him..And he tells me when i'm wrong.But sad part about it I got Caught because someone snitched on me...smh

Submitted by jonn3 (not verified) on Fri, 07/08/2011 - 07:02.

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