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Pennsylvania's Teen Sexting Laws

Pennsylvania's Teen Sexting Laws

The accessibility of the smartphone and the smartphone camera has made sexting increasingly widespread among teenagers. More and more teens have been accused of sending sexually explicit, lewd, nude, or suggestive images and messages to one another.

Unfortunately for many teens, this behavior is illegal, and initially, it was categorized as child pornography - which is a felony sex crime.

Is Teen Sexting Considered Child Pornography?

To help distinguish this new crime of “sexting” from child pornography crimes meant to penalize adults who engage in sexual activities with minors, Pennsylvania State legislation made sexting its own distinct crime in 2012.

According to this recent law, sexting occurs when a minor:

  • Creates, shares, sends, or receives an electronic communication (text messages, social media posts, etc.) that depicts a nude or lewd image of themselves or anyone else who is older than 11 but younger than 18
  • Possesses a nude or lewd photograph of anyone between the ages of 12 and 17

What are the Penalties for Teen Sexting?

As sexting is a juvenile crime by definition – remember that it will constitute the more serious crime of child pornography if a non-minor is involved in sexting in any form – it will generally be prosecuted through Pennsylvania’s juvenile courts. In such courts, judges can use their own discretion much more openly than in adult criminal courts.

Sexting crimes were defined individually to prevent the ruination of a teenager’s life and reputation at such a young age by not considering it a felony. Instead of the harshest of consequences, judges can use measures to penalize them while simultaneously deterring and hopefully preventing sexting from happening in the future.

A teen who is found to possess sexts can be punished with:

  • 90 days in jail
  • $300 fine
  • Educational programs

If all sentences and programs are completed adequately, the charges can be expunged from the minor’s record, as to prevent future damage to their reputation. Sharing sexts is punished more severely, however, as it constitutes a misdemeanor.

Was Your Teen Charged with Sexting? Call for a Consultation!

If your teenage child has been accused of sharing, receiving, possessing, or creating nude or lewd images of themselves or another teenager, you must be the one to take legal action for them.

Take a look at the benefits of working with our firm:

Contact Ilkhanoff & Silverstein today and speak with our York criminal defense attorneys. We have more than 30 years of combined legal experience that we can use to shield your child from defamation and criminal penalties.

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