Modern technology has touched every part of our lives, changing the way we do everything. Even intimacy is not immune to the influence of smartphones and computers. It’s no secret that teens can become physical when they fall in love. Raging hormones and a desire for new experiences will always affect a young person’s behavior. With so many young people constantly communicating via text, it is almost inevitable that it will turn erotic.
However, young lovers who share intimate images can be accused of a crime. If either party is under 18, they could be charged with child pornography.
Defining Child Pornography
Sexual images of people under 18 are classified as child pornography. If a photo contains a nude child, this could be labeled as pornography as well. Clearly, if such images are shared among adults, this is both immoral and criminal. In Texas, adults guilty of child pornography are charged with a first-degree felony, the highest crime in the state.
Morality becomes much less clear when consenting teens share sexual images with one another. They may be doing so strictly as an expression of love and desire for one another. An angry parent who discovers this behavior, however, could seek justice, accusing the other teen of distributing child pornography. Texas is often known for its more conservative leanings, and a sympathetic judge could agree with the incensed parent.
Penalties for Sexting Juveniles
In Texas, minors between 10 and 17 can be charged with a crime. The justice system is, however, very different and more lenient toward minors. The goal of juvenile just is rehabilitation. The state wants to help treat these children and train bad behavior out of them.
Children are not given a minimum or maximum sentence in a criminal trial. The state does not even use the word “guilty.” Courts may rule that a child was “engaged in delinquent conduct” and needs rehabilitation.
This rehabilitation can take different forms. Children, especially those accused of felonies, can be committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. This may include incarceration. The sentence could last until the teen turns 19. In lower sentences, the child could be put on probation until they are 18.
None of these facts should suggest that you should accept your child’s criminal allegations. They are still entitled to a defense. Enduring these penalties can leave a lasting impression on kids, and many of them have a high recidivism rate. If your child is accused of criminal behavior, seek a good attorney to help defend them in court. With a proper defense, your child could keep their freedoms and avoid the psychological harm of a conviction.
This harm can be severe if your child was engaged in something they meant as a loving exchange. You may not personally agree with your child’s sexting, and if so, you should have a long discussion about sexual responsibility. However, it is unfair and oppressive for the law to regulate your teen’s love life, doling out punishments on a technicality.
“Romeo and Juliet” Laws
Another aspect that makes sexting a tricky issue is Texas’s Romeo and Juliette Laws. Essentially, this law acknowledges that strictly drawing a line at 18-years-old creates unnecessary legal issues. An 18-year-old high school senior, for example, could fall in love with a 17-year-old junior at his school. The state recognizes that these scenarios naturally exist in society, and it provides some leniency.
Under these rules, consensual sex within a three-year gap is mostly tolerated by the state, provided the younger party is at least 14. Therefore, a 14-year-old can be intimate with a 17-year-old, and a 17-year-old can be intimate with a 20-year-old.
“Tolerated,” however, does not mean “condoned.” Even within this three-year gap, the older party can be convicted of statutory rape. Because of Romeo and Juliette laws, however, they will not be added to a registered sex offenders list.
These laws relate to sexting. Two people, one 17 and the other 19, could be in a relationship, sharing sexy images with one another. In theory, either or both of them could be charged with child pornography, but the older party would be shielded from registry on a sex offender list.
If your child is facing criminal charges from intimate communications, call us today at 888-4-ZEN-LAW. We may be able to start preparing a defense right away. You can also fill out an online contact form here.