According to the New York Times, one in five teens may be a child pornographer risking life in prison — for the crime of taking and distributing naked pictures of themselves.
According to a recent study commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com, 20 percent of teenagers have taken nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves and sent them to someone or posted them online. Most send these gifts to their boyfriend or girlfriend (69 percent) or someone they want to date or hook up with (30 percent).
These statistics are alarming, but so is the fact that ‘sexting” is now a crime. So what may seem on the surface to be puppy love in the information age now could put kids in jeopardy for prison time- as child pornographers no less.
It’s illegal under federal and state child-porn laws to create explicit images of a minor and to posses them or distribute them. These laws were drafted to address adult abuse of minors, but it turns out they don’t exempt minors who create and distribute images, even if the pictures are of them. In fact, prosecutors in several states are going after creator-victims, in both federal and state court. Some kids are being charged as juveniles but under Federal law, there is no such equivalent.
So when a 16-year-old with takes pictures of herself and sends them to a boy to seduce him, she could get life in federal prison under current sentencing guidelines. If she does manage to get out, she may have to register as a sex offender.
Comments about this post can be directed to Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William Weinberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.