Sexting Laws (Pennsylvania)

South Eastern PA Teen Sexting Defense Attorney

A common behavior in relationships today, particularly among teenagers, is the practice of “sexting” — sending nude or sexually suggestive messages through text messages or emails. With many teenagers possessing “smart phones”, it has become commonplace for teens to flirt or “joke around” by sexting. Sexting is also a very common sex offense in Pennsylvania.

While teenagers may not mean harm by sexting, such communications can have devastating affects on the subjects. And, naturally, most texts cannot be “taken back” once they are distributed which can result in incredible embarrassment and even serious criminal charges.

Transmission of Sexually Explicit Images by a Minor

Pennsylvania has recently passed a law prohibiting sexting between teenagers. The penalties are less severe than those aimed at adults who send photographs of teens (which is punished under the Sexual Abuse of Children law), but can still result in jail time and a permanent criminal record.

Generally speaking, the Pennsylvania “teen sexting” law makes it a crime for a minor to knowingly disseminate and electronic photograph of himself or herself. The law also punishes minors who send photographs of another minor without their consent.

If you or a loved one is charged in connection with a teen sexting incident, it is important to hire an experienced Montgomery County, PA criminal defense attorney.  Please feel free to click here to discuss your case.

Sexual Abuse of Children

In Pennsylvania, “sexting” laws are far more severe when the sender is older than 18 and the subject is under 18. The law called Sexual Abuse of Children makes it illegal to photograph or videotape any minor under the age of 18 engaging in a prohibited sexual act. This is crime is called Sexual Abuse of Children (commonly referred to as child pornography). While this law is clearly well-intentioned, some have accused it of being overly broad. For example, under this law, people barely older than 18 can be charged with photographing or videotaping a person just under 18.

Teen Sexting And Prosecution

Prosecuting teen sexting cases can become controversial because many individuals believe  that teens should face the severe and life altering punishments that come along with sex-related criminal conviction. Prosecutors across Pennsylvania, including Montgomery County, PA District Attorney’s Office, have struggled with determining whether teen sexting should be considered a criminal issue. Some people believe that many teen sexting cases — especially those involving minors texting minors — should be addressed in the home and/or at school and not in criminal court. However there is no doubt that teen sexting incidents can severely embarrass individuals and even change lives.

Pennsylvania Teen Diversionary Programs

In Pennsylvania, local magisterial district courts can impose a “diversionary program” where a minor may complete community service or an educational program after which the charges are dismissed. In some respects, these teen diversionary programs are like a teenage Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD Program). In such cases, the child’s criminal record may ultimately be expunged. This is obviously important because no one wants their child saddled with a criminal record of a sexual offense.

It is important to hire an experienced Montgomery County juvenile criminal defense lawyer to fully discuss your child’s rights and options.

Montgomery County Defense Attorney

Sex offenses can range from serious felony charges to seemingly minor consensual teen sexting situations. Regardless of the specific charge, it is imperative to have proper legal representation to ensure that you obtain the best possible result.

When facing charges of child pornography in the Montgomery County area due to an incident involving teen sexting, it is always imperative that the proper legal representation be sought.