A recent event in another state may give teens and parents in Texas pause. According to Yahoo! News, a large number of students at a Colorado school have been engaging in sharing nude photos of themselves, a behavior known as “sexting.” Colorado considers to be a class 3 felony because the act is viewed as child pornography, a serious charge that carries with it tough sentences.
Texas takes a different approach to prosecuting sexting cases among minors. According to the Texas Attorney General, it used to be that high school students who engaged in the behavior would have possibly faced felony charges and even lifetime registration as a sex offender. The state acknowledges that sexting is dangerous and should carry consequences, however the state’s penal code’s remedies appeared too strict for juveniles.
Effective in September 2011, legislation passed a law regarding minors who possess or promote explicit images of people who are 17 or younger. According to the law, the first offense constitutes a class C misdemeanor and does not require any sex offender registration. The law also outlines the following:
- A second offense may be considered a class B misdemeanor.
- Someone who uses the texts to harass, abuse or otherwise mistreat someone else may also face a class B misdemeanor.
- A third offense following two sexting convictions could result in a class A misdemeanor.
Any minor convicted of the charges will have to undergo a program regarding the harmful effects of texting.
The attorney general points out that the law provides defendants to use a romantic relationship as a defense to any criminal charges, as long as the parties are within two years of age of each other. Destroying the images within a reasonable amount of time can also be used to defend against the charges.