For attorneys who counsel educational institutions, it is only a matter of time before they must grapple with sexting-related issues.
In addition to risking reputation and self-esteem, sexting teenagers also expose themselves, their peers, and their school administrators to significant criminal liability. Most alarmingly, a sexting minor, or a recipient of a sext message from a minor, may have committed one or more felonies under the Illinois Child Pornography Act (the "Act").
anyone he or she should know is under the age of 18 and who is engaged in any sexual act or in any pose involving lewd exhibition of unclothed or transparently clothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast.
Thus, a 17-year-old who snaps his or her own revealing picture has technically created child pornography, a Class 1 felony with a mandatory fine of between $2,000 and $100,000 and at least four years in prison.
While the statute does not define "sufficient time," sooner is better than later.
For example, Vermont recently enacted a law making a teenager's first "sexting" offense a juvenile court matter, giving the teen the opportunity to be sent to a diversionary program rather than be charged as an adult and branded a sex offender.