There is a growing trend among teenagers and children which involves texting naked images of oneself to others by the use of cell phones. Police call it “sexting,” and it could lead to numerous minors being charged with possession of underage pornography.
The Columbus Georgia Ledger Enquirer has the story.
What many children and parents fail to understand is that possessing or distributing a naked image of a minor is illegal even if the receiver or sender is a minor. When it comes to juveniles and sexting, the Sex Crimes Unit of the Columbus Police reports that they mainly see cases involving sixth, seventh and eighth grade children. Police estimate that they only know of a small fraction of the actual cases, since most cases are handled by school officials and parents. Whether or not charges are filed in a particular case depends heavily on the ages of the sender and receiver, what exactly was sent and how much was sent.
When charges are filed, the consequences can be severe. One of the most common offenses that is charged for sexting is sexual exploitation of a child. This law makes it illegal for any person to knowingly possess or control any material which depicts a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. If convicted of this crime, a person 17 or older would face between five and 20 years in prison and have to register as a sex offender. Minors may also face stiff penalties in juvenile court.
Our criminal defense attorneys have successfully defended numerous clients charged with possessing child pornography after their computers or cell phones were seized by police. As this story shows, there are many times that a person may not realize he or she is breaking the law, or a person may not be aware that such images are on their computer or cell phone. Regardless of the circumstances, a good criminal defense attorney will analyze every element of the police investigation and resulting arrest to determine if the images were lawfully seized by means of a properly executed warrant or by the defendant’s consent. If the computer or cell phone was illegally seized, the images found on them must generally be suppressed.
Pate & Brody is an accomplished Georgia law firm with offices in Atlanta, Macon and Madison. Our lawyers are dedicated to pursuing justice for people charged with serious crimes. We have successfully represented clients facing serious federal criminal charges and state criminal charges in courts across Georgia. Our lawyers have been recognized on the list of Georgia’s “Super Lawyers”, and included among Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend Magazine. Page Pate was recently the Chairman of the Criminal Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association.