Sexting Laws in Florida
Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
Sexting means sending nude or sexually explicit images via electronic means, often using cell phones. Consenting adults may generally sext without legal consequences, but when teenagers engage in sexting, it is a criminal offense. This is because transmitting nude or sexually explicit images of minors is a crime. Normally, sexting would be prosecuted under child pornography laws, but fortunately for minors, Florida has a teen sexting law, the penalties of which are not as harsh as those for child pornography. If your teenage child has been charged with sexting, it is important to get an attorney immediately.
In Florida, a minor may commit the offense of sexting by either transmitting or possessing explicit images. First, a person under the age of eighteen commits sexting when he or she uses a computer or other electronic device to distribute any images or video depicting sexual content or nudity to another minor.
Additionally, if a minor possesses a sexually explicit photo or video of any person that was distributed by another minor, the minor may be charged with sexting. A minor charged with possession does not commit sexting if he or she:
- Did not solicit the image;
- Made reasonable efforts to report the image to a parent or to a school or law enforcement official; or
- Did not transmit the image to a third party.
A minor’s first violation of Florida’s sexting law constitutes a noncriminal violation. The minor will be required to complete eight hours of community service, pay a $60 civil penalty, or participate in a cyber-safety course. The sentence must be completed within thirty days of receipt of the citation.
A second violation of the sexting statute is a first degree misdemeanor, while the third violation is a third degree felony.
A person commits the crime of transmission of pornography by electronic device or equipment when he or she knowingly delivers child pornography through the internet or by means of any electronic device. Child pornography is defined as any image of a minor engaging in sexual conduct. A person may also be charged with transmission of pornography if he or she is in another state and delivers child pornography to any person in Florida.
Since adults cannot be charged under the sexting statute, anyone who is over eighteen and sends explicit photos of underage teenagers may be convicted of a child pornography crime.
The transmission of child pornography is a third degree felony. It is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, and five years’ probation. Florida law also forbids producing, possessing, or promoting child pornography. The sentences for these crimes vary depending on their severity. Possession in Florida is a third degree felony, whereas production and promotion are second degree felonies.
If your child has been charged with sexting or a similar offense, an experienced attorney may be able to help him or her get the charges reduced. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.