Today’s teenagers seem to be attached to their cell phones. Rapidly scrolling through various social media platforms, they tap the screen to “like” certain posts, hold their phones at arm’s length to snap selfies, and skillfully type text messages to friends at all hours of the day. And while the use of these technologies is not without consequences, most of this behavior is not illegal. Except the practice of sending nude or sexually explicit photos electronically, known as “sexting”.
Studies show that a significant number of teenagers have taken, sent, or received explicit photos from friends, classmates, or dates. Research also shows that many of those teenagers do not understand the legal consequences of their actions.
New Jersey’s teen sexting law
Children that share nude or suggestive photos that depict a youngster under the age of 18 are in violation of New Jersey’s child pornography laws and are subject to criminal prosecution. As an alternative to criminal prosecution for child pornography, in 2012, New Jersey adopted specific legislation to address the practice of sexting among teenagers, providing a diversion in cases where teens are charged with sexting. Under this legislation, at the judge’s discretion, children under the age of 18 who create, distribute, or exhibit images that qualify as child pornography may be ordered to participate in counseling or an educational program that addresses the consequences of sexting as an alternative to facing criminal prosecution. It is important to note that the diversion program is subject to the court’s discretion. In cases where the children have demonstrated more culpability – such as older teens taking and sharing explicit photos on public websites without permission – the court may allow those charged to face prosecution for child pornography.
New Jersey child pornography laws
In the state of New Jersey, causing anyone under the age of 18 to engage in a sexual act or appear nude for the purpose of making a photograph or film is a violation of child pornography laws. Photographing or filming a nude child under the age of 18 engaging in sexual conduct is considered endangering a welfare of a child and subject to criminal prosecution. Similarly, it is a crime to possess, offer or give to someone else, or distribute in any way pornography depicting a child.
Have more questions? Contact leading New Jersey criminal defense lawyers
Parenting a teenager is fraught with challenges. Managing the ever present role technology plays in their day to day lives can make parenting all the more difficult. We understand. At Lomurro Law, our skilled New Jersey criminal defense team works with families facing these situations and the charges associated with teen sexting. Let us help. With compassion, discretion, and in-depth knowledge of New Jersey’s laws, we aggressively defend the charges brought against your child for the best possible outcome. Schedule a confidential consultation by contacting our office at 732-482-9285 or online.