Sexting is a term that’s been around since the late 90’s and is defined as using a mobile or cell phone to text explicit messages or nude or semi-nude photos to someone. This is considered a private matter among consenting adults. When it involves a minor, however, it becomes a public matter that is punishable under Texas child pornography laws.
Youth who send sexually explicit pictures or messages usually between cell phones — can be charged with a misdemeanor, which could mean jail time. Underage minors who are convicted will take a state-sponsored educational class about the dangers of sexting with a parent. A conviction may be removed from the youth’s record at 18.
On September 1,2001 Governor Rick Perry signed a legislative bill decreasing the penalty for teenagers, who are caught sexting with each other, to a misdemeanor. Ths bill introduced by Senator Kirk Watson and sponsored in the House by Rep. Tom Craddick prevents minors who are charged with sexting from suffering from serious criminal penalties formally associated with this offense. Prior to the passage of the new sexting laws, juveniles caught sexting could face felony charges and wind up as a registered sex offender. Under the new law, a sexting offense is a Class C misdemeanor for first-time violators less than 18 years old. Judges are now authorized to sentence minors convicted of sexting – and one of the minor’s parents – to participate in an education program about sexting’s long-term harmful consequences. The new law also allows teens to apply to the court to have the sexting offense expunged from their records.
If your child has been accused or arrested of a sex crime the consequences can be severe and follow them their entire life. Posting pictures and sexting on Facebook or other social media networking sites can also be defined as a criminal act. Texas has experienced cases in the past where a student in the eighth grade as been jailed after an accusation of sending suggestive photos on his phone.
Even with the passage of this new law easing the penalties for sexting, Texas minors still can be facing serious consequences when accused of this type of “cyber crime”. Minors accused of a second offense would still are facing a felony charge. If you or someone you know is dealing with this type of situation with the Texas Criminal Justice System, you need the best criminal defense attorney available. Attorneys at The Dick Law Firms have years of experience with the Williamson County Justice System. Call for a free confidential consultation. Don’t let your loved one’s poor judgment result in a lifelong problem.