A Virginia mother causes quite the controversy when she decided to turn her 13-year-old daughter over to police.
The mother decided to go through her daughter's cellphone and tablet after she suspected her daughter of using the technology to do more than simply chat with her friends. What she discovered was a gruesome sight: sexually-charged text messages and nude pictures of her daughter sent to boys that she had 'befriended.' The teen has the potential to face criminal charges relating to child pornography, but the Commonwealth's attorney hinted that other options are likely available to the teen other than the court system. An older boy—a high school senior—that the daughter sent messages and pictures to may not be given the same leniency.
Is the Law Being Applied Fairly?
Such a situation brings up an apparent line-drawing issue that is witnessed in similar circumstances: Where should we exercise discretion in the prosecution of similar cases? The daughter is the individual who is not only manufacturing such material, but is also distributing it to those who are willing, or in worse circumstances unknowing receivers at the other end of her messages. While leniency is given to the 13-year-old daughter, should such leniency be given to the high school senior? What if the senior did not know the pictures he would be receiving would contain nudity? What if the boy was not a senior in high school, but instead a sophomore in high school, would he be more likely to receive options outside of the court system? Should the hypothetical, 2-year difference in age make a difference?
Parents Are the First Line of Defense
Whatever moral highroad one may take with answering such questions, there is a finite lesson that can be taken from this peculiar but yet, increasingly popular set of circumstances: Know what your children are doing with the technology that you provide them. Kids are increasingly ahead of the curve when it comes to technology; it makes it that much more important to stay up-to-date with what you provide them, and to limit the potential uses and abuses that inevitably come with technology.
Adolescents sending and receiving such text messages and pictures do not—and most argue, cannot—understand the complexity and uncertainty of the situation they are finding themselves in. Therefore, it is up to parents to not only to inform, but to enforce. Such enforcement will not only protect your child from compromising their future, but could also protect another parent's child from falling outside the prosecutor's wide range of discretion in following through with criminal charges.
What Kinds of Penalties Come with a Sexting Conviction?
With today's ever-changing technology, it is important to understand your rights as well as the legal ramifications affecting your rights. The minors involved in the scenario described above could very well face criminal charges of a sexual nature. If a person is convicted of a sex crime, he or she will not only face the potential of jail time, but will also be subject to the devastating hardship of sex offender registration. Such a label can forever tarnish a person's reputation and freedom.
When the stakes are high, it is important to consult with an Cincinnati criminal defense attorney that will fight hard and smart to protect your rights and reputation Contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Bleile & Dawson today for a completely free and confidential consultation.
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