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It’s common knowledge that possessing sexually explicit images of children is illegal. But what about sexting? What if a 15-year-old kid sends a pal a sexually suggestive image of themselves, or of another 15-year-old, through a text message? Who is guilty of what?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding “sexting” in New Jersey. However, several cases over the last few years brought a lot of attention to the issue. For a while, this type of activity could be labeled child pornography — regardless of how old the alleged “sender” was and regardless of the common sense interpretation of their motives. (For example, was it teens with overactive imaginations who were taking flirting too far? Or was it really a case of intentional distribution of child pornography?)
New Jersey laws now prevent kids from being subjected to the child pornography statutes if it is their first offense. This new legislation is aimed at differentiating between criminals who are willfully distributing child pornography and “kids being kids.”
If your child has been charged with possession of sexually explicit material through sexting, it is imperative that you consult with an attorney who can help you understand the severity of your charges. The criminal defense attorneys at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC have experience successfully defending clients against sexting charges. We keep up to date with the rapidly changing legislation in New Jersey and we know how to position you for the best possible outcome.
Sexting is relatively new on the scene in NJ, as far as charges are concerned. It simply didn’t exist 10 years ago. In addition, there are myriad levels of severity. A teenager sending a naked picture to another teenager will be treated much differently from a middle-aged man found in possession of lewd pictures of a teenager.
However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your child’s charges are no big deal. If your child is found with sexually explicit photos on his or her phone, it’s a big deal. Not only will distributing the photos cause a potential lifetime of embarrassment and pain for the person in the photo (the Internet is forever!), but one instance can easily turn into two or more. Yes, teens with overactive hormones are probably just playing around when sexting — but the severe penalties your child might face if charged and convicted for this type of behavior will be no laughing matter.
Further, if this is a second offense, or if unique circumstances (such as bullying) put your child in a different category, your kid is already likely facing an extremely serious legal battle. The attorneys at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC know how to defend clients against sexting charges. Contact us today.
The laws pertaining to sexting fall under the NJ Endangering Welfare of Children statute. As such, if certain circumstances apply, the sexting will be considered a crime. For example, if an adult defendant used a cell phone to photograph or film a child in a prohibited sexual act, and then distributed the image via text, the defendant will be charged with a crime. If convicted, the defendant may spend up to 10 years in prison, pay fines of up to $150,000, and be required to register as a sex offender.
Back to the issue of teenagers caught in “sexting scandals.” When sexting is the result of teenagers making poor judgments, but not engaging in criminal activity, the minors will likely be required to attend a state-sponsored program. Through this program, they learn about the dangers, and legal consequences, of sexting. However, in order to be admitted into this program, certain other criteria have to be met, such as this being the minor’s first offense. The juvenile courts are set up for exactly this purpose. These courts serve to rehabilitate, rather than punish, kids who have made errors in judgement.
Further, if the incident was discovered on school grounds, your child may be subject to an investigation and penalties under New Jersey’s stringent HIB laws. (“HIB” refers to Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying.) Even for a first-time offender, depending on the circumstances, your child could face suspension or worse in school.
The legal team at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC has significant experience with juvenile court. Our attorneys will work closely with you to ensure that your child’s rights are protected. We serve clients in Union, Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, Westfield, and throughout New Jersey — and we want to help you.
The experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC will fight to protect your child’s rights. There are always two sides to a story and we will fight hard to make sure that the judge hears your child’s version of what happened. We will also protect your child’s freedom and reputation. Contact us now for a free consultation at one of our offices in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Newark, East Brunswick, Clifton, Cherry Hill, or anywhere else in New Jersey.
It is possible. The judge has the discretion to prosecute rather than admit a child caught sexing into the New Jersey diversionary program. That is why it is so important to have a skilled defense lawyer in your corner.
The judge considers all factors in the case. A key factor is the victims’ ages. Both must be under the age of 18. If the defendant is much older than the child who is depicted in the sexually explicit images, the judge could decide that the defendant should be charged. Further, if the defendant distributed the images or posted them, the judge may choose to prosecute. Our skilled defense lawyers will work to present the strongest case possible for admission into the diversion program.
No. The diversion program was developed as an alternative to criminal prosecution for minors accused of sexting. Your child will not be prosecuted or convicted of a crime if they successfully complete the diversion program.