For many, the teenage years are those where you experiment. Some teens experiment with drugs, alcohol, and their bodies. While in some cases, sexual activity is not illegal for teenagers, in some situations, this is the case. Teen sexting can go from fun and flirtatious to dangerous very quickly. You can learn more about teen sexting and the consequences for teen sexting on this page.
Teenage sexting is when teens swap naked pictures using their cell phones or other electronic devices. Connecticut General Statutes don’t define “sexting,” but the term does refer to images and not text-based messages. It is a fact of life in our digital age. Teenagers are influenced by prevailing social media, and they may take and publish sexually-charged “selfies” to seek approval and status among their peers or to communicate with a love interest.
Any photograph or video recording which shows a teen’s genitals, pubic region, female breasts, actual or simulated sexual contact, masturbation, intercourse, or sadistic abuse is considered sexting.
Connecticut has recently reformed its laws to distinguish teenage sexting from traditional child pornography and sexual predators. The age of sexual consent in Connecticut is 16 years-old.
There are two parts to sexting: (1) possessing the naked picture and (2) sending the naked picture to someone else. Our laws deal with both.
It is illegal for a teenager under 18 years-old to possess any naked pictures sent to them by another teenager who is under 16 years-old.
It is illegal for a teenager under 16 years-old to send any naked pictures to another teenager who is under 18 years-old.
So, if your teenager is 16 or older, and is communicating with another teenager that is 16 or older, and your teen is sexting naked pictures of themselves or of another teenager that is 16 years or older, then their sexting is legal.
On the contrary, if the naked picture is of someone under 16 years-old, it is illegal.
Parents need to be vigilant, monitor, and enforce restrictions on their teenager’s cell phone use. The penalties for illegal sexting by a teenager are severe, and they can have long-term ramifications into adulthood.
If your teenager is arrested for illegal sexting, they could face a misdemeanor or a more serious charge. Sexting can be charged as a misdemeanor if the sender of the sexual image is under 16 and sending a picture of themselves to someone under the age of 18. If the recipient is over the age of 18 and the image is of someone other than the sender, the crime could be charged as possession of child pornography in the first degree, second degree, or third degree. These crimes are felonies and penalties include heavy fines and prison sentences.
If your teenager has been charged with an illegal sexting crime, it is important to get them help. Contacting a juvenile defense attorney can make sure that their rights are protected and your family understands the juvenile court process. For more information, you can contact my office. I am happy to answer your questions and help your family through this experience.