Jul 11, 2018

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Teens and Sexting

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Most parents of today’s teenagers grew up in a world without cell phones and widely available internet. Texting was not a thing. And neither was “sexting.”

Sexting is when a person sends an explicit message or photograph via text message or another message application on their phone, computer, or other electronic device, as a sex crime lawyer Grand Rapids, MI trusts can explain. It is not uncommon for teens today to engage in sexting.

It is important for today’s parents to talk to their teens about sexting. Not only can there be practical consequences to sexting, but there can also be serious legal consequences for sexting that most teens and parents don’t know about. A teen under the age of eighteen who sends or receives an explicit image of themselves or another minor is guilty of a serious crime that could result in prison time and placement on the sex offender registry.

From a merely practical standpoint, sexting is a bad idea for teens. Allowing explicit photographs of yourself to get out in the world can have real negative consequences. For example, if a teen girl sends an image to her boyfriend, she doesn’t have the expectation that the photo is ever going to be seen by anyone else but the boyfriend. However, it is not uncommon to see, after a breakup, the boyfriend pass the image around among friends, post the image on social media, or post the image on a “revenge porn” website. This can result in embarrassment and humiliation. Future employers will forever find these explicit images by googling your teen’s name. You can’t ever truly remove an image from the internet once it is out there.

Your teenager having explicit images of themselves floating around the internet can also make them vulnerable to people who may want to exploit your teen. They may be contacted by someone who demands money or more explicit images in exchange for not publicly disseminating the images.

In addition to those types of problems, the legal consequences of sexting can be incredibly serious. Even if your teen is of a legal age to consent to sexual activity in your state (in many states teens can consent to sex at 16 or 17 years of age), taking an explicit image of a person under the age of 18, even of themselves, and even with the teen’s consent, is illegal, and constitutes child pornography.

A teen who takes an explicit image of themselves is guilty of producing child pornography, which is a crime under both federal and state law. A teen who then sends the image to another person via text message is guilty of distribution of child pornography. A teen or adult who receives the image is guilty of receipt and possession of child pornography. If that person passes on the photograph to yet another person, they are guilty of distribution of child pornography.

These are crimes that carry penalties of up to thirty years or more in prison, and many of the crimes have mandatory minimums that don’t make probation a possibility. They can also result in placement on a state’s sex offender registry. Prosecutors across the country are charging teens with these crimes for sexting. They can have lifelong consequences that parents should ensure that their teens understand.

 


 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Blanchard Law for their insight into criminal defense.

Who Can I Talk to About My Criminal Case?

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Being charged with a crime can be an incredibly stressful event. One thing that people often do in order to relieve stress is to talk about their problems with other people. However, when you have a criminal case pending, that’s a bad idea. When you share facts about your case with family members and friends, you can turn them into witnesses. The things that you say to them can be twisted, and made to sound incriminating, even if the person is on your side. You don’t want to put your family member or friend in a position of being made a witness against you at a trial. So, who can you talk to about your criminal case?

  1.     Your Lawyer.

The one person in the world who you should be talking about every detail of your case with is your lawyer. With your attorney, you enjoy the attorney-client privilege. Anything you say to your lawyer cannot be revealed, and your lawyer cannot be forced to testify against you. The attorney-client privilege is a sacred privilege, and your lawyer will certainly take it very seriously.

There are very few exceptions to the attorney-client privilege. For example, telling a lawyer about your intent to commit a crime in the future is not subject to privilege. If you tell your lawyer that you intend to go kill John Doe, your lawyer can reveal that information in order to save John Doe. However, if you tell your lawyer that you killed John Doe in the past, that information cannot be revealed and is subject to the attorney-client privilege. Also, if you use your attorney’s services in order to commit a fraud of some kind, the attorney-client privilege won’t apply.

Those are rare exceptions, however, and when you have hired a criminal defense lawyer, like a criminal defense lawyer Grand Rapids, MI residents need, to defend you, they are unlikely to arise. You should feel entirely safe in sharing information with your attorney. The more information you are able to share with your attorney, the better they will be able to defend you.

  1.     Your therapist, with some exceptions.

In most instances, you can share information about your criminal case with a therapist and the information will be kept confidential. The major exception is in a situation where you have committed a crime involving a child. If this is the case, in most states, therapists are what is known as “mandatory reporters,” and are required by law to report any information they have about a crime being committed against a child. If your case involves accusations of harm toward a child, you should not discuss the case with a therapist, even if you are innocent of the charges.

  1.     Your spouse, also with exceptions.

In most states, there is a spousal privilege, meaning that a spouse cannot be forced to testify against the other spouse. However, there are two caveats. First, many states permit a spouse to be forced to testify against the other spouse when the allegations involve a crime against a child. Second, in many states, the spousal privilege is held by the testifying spouse. That means, if your spouse is called to testify against you, it is your spouse’s choice about whether or not to testify. You can’t prevent your spouse from testifying against you using the privilege. This means that when you discuss your case with your spouse, you ought to be 100% certain that you can trust him or her.

 


 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Blanchard Law for their insight into criminal defense.