In our increasingly digitally connected world, more people, including minors, can communicate with each other instantaneously through text messages and social media. While chats between young people might not seem that serious, those chats can quickly become criminal.
Minors can be prosecuted if they engage in “sexting,” which is sending nude or sexually explicit photos and videos to each other. Laws regarding sexting are relatively new, but the idea behind them is to prevent sexual material depicting minors from getting onto the internet. Criminal charges may include child pornography offenses, revenge porn, or even stalking or harassment if the sexting is unwelcomed by the recipient. There may be very serious penalties for a conviction of sexual offenses, including registration as a sex offender. An attorney can help you fight the charges against your child.
If your child is facing criminal charges relating to sexting or sharing or posting sexually explicit materials of themselves or other minors, our New Jersey sex crimes defense lawyers can help you. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
Prosecuting Minors for Sexting in Atlantic City
Minors can actually be charged with criminal offenses for sexting. How a minor is charged depends on what was included in the sexual messages and how the communications occurred. If your child is facing criminal charges related to sexting, contact our New Jersey sex crimes defense lawyers immediately.
Charges related to sexting between minors are often so serious because the content of these messages can be considered child pornography. Two young teenagers in a relationship might see no harm in sending each other sexual photos, but those photos might fit the description of child pornography. As such, sending these photos can be charged similarly to distributing child pornography.
The reasoning behind the criminalization of sexting between minors is to prevent explicit photos and videos of minors from making their way to the internet, where others can download them. It is not unusual for sexting scandals between young people to get out of hand, with pictures and videos circulating across an entire school or more.
Criminal Charges Against Minors for Sexting in Atlantic City
There might be several crimes with which a minor might be charged concerning sexting. First, a minor might be charged with endangering the welfare of children under N.J.S.A. § 2C:24-4. This might sound like an odd crime to charge a minor with, but it also pertains to crimes related to child pornography.
Under the statute mentioned above, child pornography includes anything depicting a child engaged in a sex act or posed in a sexually suggestive manner. This includes nude photos and videos where a child’s private parts are exposed. A person may be charged with a crime of the second degree for photographing or filming a child in a sexual act or posed in a sexually suggestive manner.
New Jersey is one of several states that have imposed laws against “revenge porn.” Revenge porn is when private, sexually explicit photos or videos are shared between two consenting people, but one person decides to share the photos without the other’s consent. A common example is when a person sends their partner a nude photo, and then that partner distributes the photo to others as revenge after a breakup.
Revenge porn may be charged as a third-degree crime under N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-9(2)(c). Distribution does not have to be for monetary gain and may be committed in many ways, including dissemination over the internet.
If the sexting is not consensual, meaning one person is sending another person sexually explicit photos or videos of themselves, the sender in that situation might be charged with something like harassment or cyber-harassment. Our New Jersey sex crimes defense attorneys have handled cases like this before and can help you fight the charges.
Penalties for Sexting Between Minors in Atlantic City
There are numerous very harsh penalties for crimes related to sexting. Suppose you are charged under the child pornography statute. In that case, you might face incredibly harsh indictable crimes – also known as felonies in other states – and registration as a sex offender.
You can be charged with an unspecified crime, usually charged as a fourth-degree crime, for knowingly distributing an item depicting child pornography. This includes nude or sexually explicit photos exchanged between consenting minors. Fourth-degree crimes may be punished by no more than 18 months in state prison.
If you are charged with a third-degree crime for distributing revenge porn, you face at least 3 years in state prison but not more than 5 years.
Cyber-harassment charges may be for fourth-degree crimes punishable by up to 18 months in prison. However, if you are an adult at least 21 years old and you impersonate a minor with the intent of cyber-harassing another minor, the charges are upgraded to third-degree crimes.
Our New Jersey sex crimes defense attorneys can review your case and advise you of the potential penalties. We can often work to get the charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed.
Fighting the Charges for Sexting Between Minors in Atlantic City
Defending your child against these or other criminal charges requires assessing the case and reviewing the prosecutor’s evidence during the discovery process. Each charge is unique and requires an equally unique defense strategy, and our New Jersey sex crimes defense lawyers can help you.
Charges for distributing child pornography require the person know that the content in question is child pornography. If the sender believed the person depicted in the sexual content was at least 18, we might be able to fight the charges.
Alternatively, we can argue that your child was not the one who sent the sexual messages. Perhaps someone else who had access to your child’s phone, like a friend or classmate, sent the risqué material.
Charges for revenge porn center around the fact that the person depicted in the sexually explicit material did not consent to distributing the material. If the alleged victim in your case did provide consent, the charges should be dropped. For example, if the alleged victim gave consent to have their nude pictures sent to a third party but later regretted their decision, they cannot allege revenge porn.
Contact Our Atlantic City Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys
If your child is facing criminal charges related to sexting, call our New Jersey sex crimes defense attorneys for assistance as soon as possible. For a free case review, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.