"Sexting" Could Rack Up Felony Charges for Teens

Attorney: Teens taking, sending nude photos can face child porn charges

By Ellen Goldberg
|  Saturday, Dec 6, 2008  |  Updated 12:20 AM CDT
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"Sexting" Could Rack Up Felony Charges for Teens

KXAS

Attorneys say teenagers should know that texting racy pictures isn't just harmless flirting, but could result in felony charges.

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The days of passing notes in class are over.

Instead, teenagers can flirt through salacious text messages, or "sexting," and e-mail.

Melanie Young, 18, said she doesn't bat an eyelash when it comes to sexting.

"Any of the pictures I have ever sent don't have my face; it's more like body shots," she said.

Young is of age, but any younger than that, and the text messages are illegal.

It's a felony for children younger than 18 to receive naked pictures on their cell phone. Taking them can result in child pornography production and distribution charges.

"It's phenomenally stupid to take a nude picture and send it to another person," Dallas attorney Clint David said. "The fact of the matter is, by the letter of the law, if the authorities chose to do so, they can find plenty of criminal offenses."

Young said she has already seen one of her friends see the consequences of sexting.

"She sent pictures to a guy, and it got around like two or three different schools, and she was humiliated," she said.

David said teenagers should save themselves from such embarrassment and, more importantly, from jail time.

"Delete, delete, delete these pictures from your telephone, and don't send them to anyone or take any more," he said.

In Wisconsin, police recently arrested an 18-year-old on suspicion of posting nude cell phone photos of his 16-year-old girlfriend on the Internet. Some attorneys say it will be a landmark case about sexting.

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