Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sexting and Your Child's Future - What To Do Next for Florida Residents

St. Petersburg Criminal Attorney and Former State Prosecutor Melinda Morris of the Morris Law Firm discusses what to do when your child has been accused of Sexting – a felony charged as child pornography in the State of Florida.


Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones.  The word is a portmanteau of sex and texting, where the latter is meant in the wide sense of sending a text possibly with images.
You may have read about cases in the local press where minor children (teens) have been arrested for child pornography (a felony) for engaging in Sexting.  A year ago, three Pennsylvania teenage girls were charged with felonies for sending images of themselves to their boyfriends.  In 2007, Phillip Alpert, an 18-year-old from Orlando, e-mailed a nude photo of his 16-year-old girlfriend to dozens of people and her parents, leading him to get five years of probation and be registered as a sex offender.

Sexting is so prevalent that a recent national study showed one in five teenagers have sent sexy text messages with photos.

Why This Matters To You:

Whether you know it or not, your teen may be Sexting his or her peers.  If your teen is caught Sexting under the current law they may be guilty of child pornography, a felony in the State of Florida.
Although it is widely recognized that Sexting is more youthful folly than hardened criminal behavior, the State of Florida still recognizes it as child pornography, a felony punishable by jail time and potential registration as a sex offender.  Charges such as these can have a dramatic effect on your child’s future including loss of school eligibility and scholarships, loss of employment, probation, curfew, and other severe penalties.

In many Sexting cases there are potential defenses that may be utilized to reduce the charges, or even have the charges dropped altogether:

·         Lack of Intent
·         Alibi
·         Mistaken Identity
·         Failure to Read Miranda Warnings

What To Do Next:

If your teen is Arrested For Sexting (Child Pornography):

·       Don't speak to the police - ask to have an attorney present.
·       Don't give a written statement – again, ask to have an attorney present.
·       Contact an attorney immediately.

It is equally important to engage an attorney quickly as you have a very narrow window of time between when your child is arrested and when the State Attorney’s Office makes a decision to file a criminal charge.  Hiring an attorney immediately to negotiate on your child’s behalf with the state attorney’s office provides the best chance of avoiding criminal charges for your child.

If your child has been arrested for Sexting (child pornography) in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, or Tampa, Hillsborough County FL, contact a St. Petersburg Juvenile Sexual Offenses Attorney to discuss possible defenses that may exist in your case. Call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736 to discuss your case directly with an attorney.