With the advancement of technology, it seems that everyone is somehow connected to each other either by phone, or through the internet. Now more so than before, it seems as though most teens have a cell phone, or some form of an electronic device capable of accessing the internet. While many teens have these devices to do schoolwork or to call their parents, many seem to have ventured towards more adult uses. This new use that has become overly popular with teens is called “Sexting”, or the act of sending nude or sexually provocative photos to someone else through an electronic device. While to some teens it may seem harmless, it can land both themselves and or anyone else they send these photos to in court impacting them for years to come.
Most of the time, teens are sharing these provocative photos with either a boyfriend or their own small group of friends. However, while they believe that they are sending these photos to someone they trust, in many cases these photos end up being shared with others via text or social media. Recently in New Jersey six teens from West Orange, Totowa, Woodland Park, and Little Falls were charged with the distribution of child pornography due to certain sexually explicit photos being sent from one minor to another.
When teens begin to utilize their electronic devices for activities such as Sexting, they are opening themselves up for potential criminal charges that could harm them in the long run. Luckily for some, New Jersey has passed new legislation that allows minors who commit this crime for the first time to possibly be deferred to an educational program based on a ruling from a family court judge. While these new laws have been passed to protect some minors who are one time offenders to ensure that they do not have a permanent mark on their record, it does not protect every minor or repeat offenders especially those who have already been deferred once.
For example, In New Jersey, a 15 year old boy posted a video of himself and his 13 year old girlfriend engaging in a sexual act on a social media site. As a result, the boy was charged with two (2) counts of invasion of privacy because the girl was unaware of his actions. Alternatively, a 14 year old girl from Clifton New Jersey was ordered to six (6) months of counseling for sending provocative photos of herself to others.
Distribution of child pornography is a serious offense in the state of New Jersey. If charged, you can face up to 10 years in jail, $150,000.00 in fines, and be required to register with the National Sex Offender’s Registry. While the new law may help protect some of the more innocent cases, minors can still be charged and the punishments can have lifelong consequences.
If any of the above facts apply to your current legal situation, please contact the team at The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC, to schedule a free consultation.