Did You Know That Sexting Could Be a Crime?
Sexting is the name for what some people think is quite an innocuous practice. When consenting adults send each other saucy text messages, there is nothing legally wrong with it. Of course, it might become a nuisance, even intimidating, if you happen to be on the receiving end of a stream of unsolicited text messages, especially if they contain sexually explicit images. When that person who is on the receiving end is a minor, i.e. someone under 18, then the act of sexting becomes a crime. It doesn’t matter whether the receiver appears to be happy to receive sexually explicit material through the internet in one form or another, it remains a crime in Florida, punishable as a Felony in the third degree.
Sending sexually explicit or obscene material to a minor has long been a crime in Florida, but until recently that meant sending material in the form of pornographic magazines, photos, videos or any other physical form. It now includes anything that can be sent thought the internet as well.
It can be a hard job, sometimes, deciding what exactly is ‘sexually explicit” or “obscene” enough to constitute a crime. The internet is awash with this sort of material in any case. Although many parents, and certainly schools and other places where organizations provide internet access, usually install filters that block most online material that they disapprove of, it doesn’t mean that young people are totally unaware of it.
When it comes to deciding whether a particular message crosses the line to a point of unacceptability, law enforcers tend to consider whether the material would be something that most parents would not want their child to be exposed to. It is a bit of a gray line in some cases and it could be easy for an adult to stray over the line and enter the arena of illegality without realizing the seriousness of it.
The Florida law on sexting and other messaging of obscene or sexually explicit material
Florida statute §847.0133. A makes it a crime to send or transmit obscene material to minors if the sender is NOT a minor. The crime is a 3rd degree felony and a conviction could result in a prison term of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000. Even after completing a sentence, any person who has been convicted of this crime will need to be monitored on a regular basis by the Sheriff in the county where s/he lives. This stipulation does not mean, however, that the person will go on the sex offender’s register.
Minors who send sexually explicit material to another minor are treated differently
A minor who sends obscene or sexually explicit text messages or other material to another minor is not considered to have committed a crime as long as it is a first offense. The minor can still be made to pay a fine and have to undertake community service. The “non criminal” offense becomes a misdemeanor the second time it happens and a felony the third time.
Apparent acceptance by a minor is not a defense
As minors are considered anyone younger than 18, it could be argued that there are many at this age who are more mature than they might have been in the past. However, as far as the law is concerned the fact that the minor who is receiving sexually explicit material doesn’t mind it or accepts it is not a valid reason to ignore the fact that it could be a crime.
The consequences of being convicted of such a crime are serious. If you have been charged with a sexting offense, whatever your age, you will need a determined criminal defense attorney to defend you. There are many ways that your charge could be dismissed, reduced in severity to another lesser charge or the penalties reduced. In Miami, contact renowned criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes Esq. at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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