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Juvenile Sexting Can Lead to Child Pornography Charges

It’s an undeniable, unstoppable fact: Young people live their lives online more and more. It’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be fading, and it has the potential to fundamentally change first-world interactions.

Living online extends to every facet of life, including romance. With instant access to modern communication, teens are bound to use their devices to initiate and maintain their love lives.

Sex between teens is nothing new. Controversy still rages about sex ed and “condoms in the classroom.” Regardless of where you fall on this debate, you must remain aware of the realities of modern life. Teens are going to continue to be exposed to sex, and they will always be somewhere between curious and eager to experience this part of life.

When it comes to sexual interactions, technology can be a real problem for minors. Technically, sharing sexual images of themselves can be labeled child pornography. It doesn’t matter if the recipient of these images is also a minor with whom they are romantically involved. An angry parent who discovers their teen is engaged in sexting can accuse the other teen of child porn, creating a real legal mess.

Defining Child Pornography

Nude images of minors – anyone under 18 – can fall into a grey legal area. Many parents share pictures of nude toddlers running free and looking silly. The intent, of course, is to share fun, humorous moments of their kids.

If, however, the intent of distribution is for titillation, the person doing the distributing may be accused of child pornography. It will be up to the prosecutors to build a case that makes this argument. They must prove that the nude images were meant to be pornographic material. This proof could be an exchange of money for the images. Also, if the distributor has no relationship with the child in question, there could be a strong case for child porn.

Sexual images of minors are never legally justifiable, and there are no grey areas. This is an important distinction, and it is the main reason teens could get in trouble for sexting.

Defending Against Minor Child Pornography Allegations

As in any criminal case, your best defense is simply to prove that the crime didn’t occur. It may be possible to show that any traded images were not sexual in nature, and they were misinterpreted by the angry parent making the accusation.

If it’s hard to deny that the images are sexual, your next line of defense is a lack of intent.

Child pornography is a sinister crime. It insinuates that adults are exploiting children. First, there is the criminal act likely being depicted in the photos, then there are the photos themselves.

It’s important to make a case that no one was victimized when your teen swapped pics. The images were created as part of a romantic exchange. Both the sender and receiver were active participants.

The angry parent can have a lot of control over their child. They can influence their teen to claim that they didn’t want the images, and they had been violated. In these scenarios, it’s important to show what led up to the image exchanges. You must go through the entire electronic exchange, showing the clear, active participation of the receiver.

Potential Penalties for Juvenile Sexting

In Ohio, the juvenile justice system is focused more on rehabilitation than punishment. Only the most severe crimes require time spent in a juvenile detention center.

Even if the court agrees that the sexting was mutual, it may take a moral stance, believing your child needs guidance. If found guilty, your teen could be forced to undergo mental health evaluations and treatment. They could be subjected to curfews and monitoring. Perhaps they are sentenced to community service as well.

Such punishments still involve a certain loss of freedom. Furthermore, they insinuate that the parent is doing a poor job, and the state must take over and help redirect the child. There are many types of parents out there, all with varying opinions on sexuality. You may be completely averse to your teen having any kind of sex life, or you could be far more lenient on the matter, mostly concerned with safety over the act itself. Regardless, it’s up to you to have these conversations with your kids, not leave it up to the state.

Talk to An Attorney

If your minor is facing legal consequences for something they believed was strictly between them and their romantic partner, contact an attorney for help. In our justice system, even kids are entitled to legal representation. Your attorney can prepare a strong defense just as they would with any adult client.

The juvenile justice system is far less rigid than the adult system. However, going through it can still be traumatic for a young person. They can take this stain with them, and it can cause them harm in the future. Secure the services of a good lawyer to help maintain your child’s innocence, especially in a crime of technicality.

If your minor is facing legal consequences for alleged cybercrimes, contact us for a free consultation. You can reach us by calling (216) 928-7700 or filling out an online contact form.