It doesn’t matter if it has been sent or received, it is a crime in Pennsylvania for teens to “sext.” The possession, transmission, distribution, or dissemination of a nude, or partially nude, image from one person between the ages of 12 and 17 to another of the same age is considered a misdemeanor.
Even if no criminal charges are filed, many schools are working to help students understand the seriousness of what is known as their digital footprint. Images posted on the internet or shared through texts or emails or social networks can easily be forwarded. This causes lasting damage to a teen’s reputation and those teens often feel ashamed and bullied.
Sexting and Pennsylvania Law
The Pennsylvania law, House Bill 815, works on a tiered system and allows juveniles to avoid jail time for sexting offenses. First-time juvenile offenders may avoid prosecution if they agree to attend an educational program.
Teen sexting may be punished more severely if a nude photo of another teen is shared without the teen’s permission, especially if done so in order to harass or harm the reputation of another. It is important that teens understand that when sexting is used to “get back” at someone. For example, if one teen shares photos of a girlfriend after an argument or a break-up, this could result in a more serious charge.
Sexting and Federal Law
Depending on the circumstances, sexting may also be a crime under federal law.
A conviction for teen sexting can have extremely serious consequences. Parents who allow this behavior can also be prosecuted. If you or your child has been charged, you should contact a criminal defense attorney with experience handling such cases.
If you believe that you are under investigation, have been subpoenaed before a grand jury or arrested and charged with a crime, contact Neff & Sedacca, PC for a confidential consultation by phone at (215) 563-9800 or email at info@NeffSedacca.com.