Finding and deleting an unsolicited sext message an hour after its receipt better demonstrates involuntary possession than does carrying a sext message on the phone for two months or more.
The Act dictates that cell phones used for sexting by minors must be For example, students who post prohibited pictures on their Facebook pages have likely violated federal criminal law. In Illinois, someone who commits the offense of child pornography is a "sex offender" and must register and report as such.
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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.
which would transform most sexting between teens from a felony to a noncrime by treating the teen in question as a nondelinquent minor in need of supervision under the Juvenile Court Act.
Further, the embarrassment of uncontrolled dissemination of personal and private pictures can significantly disrupt the teen's life.
For example, after hundreds of people were sent sext messages a teen had sent only to her boyfriend, she was cruelly harassed through My Space and Facebook, leading her to hang herself.
but even compliant individuals face the shame and scrutiny of public reporting. Michelle Manchir, , Chicago Tribune (posted March 18, 2010), online at A similar bill, HB 4583, passed the Illinois House on March 11.
Beyond registering and reporting as sex offenders, students convicted of child pornography may also be bound by other restrictions that can significantly complicate their lives. Bland, , Arizona Republic (Aug 27, 2009) (cited in note 6) ("Lawmakers in Vermont, Utah and Ohio are making sexting a misdemeanor instead of a felony when the cases involve teenagers, and as long as the sender voluntarily transmitted the image."). Act of May 9, 2009, 2009 Vt Laws 58§ 4, to be codified at 13 VSA§ 2802b, online at Another slightly more punitive sexting bill, HB 5164, was still alive at presstime. Telephone conversation with Dave Haslett, Chief of the Illinois Attorney General’s High Tech Crimes Bureau (Sep 28, 2009). See Bassett, , The Telegraph (Jun 27, 2009) (cited in note 5) (Explaining that school districts are reviewing and amending policy to account for recent sexting behavior). Telephone conversation with Daniel Spillman, attorney for the Illinois Attorney General High Tech Crimes Bureau (May 13, 2009).
For attorneys who counsel educational institutions, it is only a matter of time before they must grapple with sexting-related issues.
These issues pose difficult challenges for school administrators and staff, especially where improper investigation can subject school personnel to prosecution for the same criminal offenses that teens risk by sexting.
For example, child sex offenders 17 and older cannot be present on school grounds or loiter or reside within 500 feet of the school building. See Kara Rowland, , WKYC-TV (Apr 13, 2009), online at /print.aspx?
The following example places the foregoing offenses in perspective: a 16-year-old girl who snaps a sexual, semi-nude picture of herself to send as a phone message to her boyfriend has committed at least three felonies by creating, disseminating, and possessing "child pornography." If her boyfriend requested she send the sext message, he is subject to at least two felonies: soliciting and voluntarily possessing the sext message.
Sex offense laws predating the sexting phenomenon do not contemplate the ease and frequency with which teens send risque' pictures to each other from their phones.