New Jersey teenagers caught texting sexually explicit photos or posting them online could avoid prosecution if Gov. Chris Christie signs a measure passed by the state Senate.
The Senate voted 39-0 today to approve the bill. It passed the Assembly in March.
The bill targets “sexting,” the practice of sending explicit photos by cell phone, email or Internet posts. The nationwide problem has confounded parents, schools and police.
The bill gives first-time offenders the chance to complete an education program. If they successfully complete the program, the charges will be dismissed.
This a rare case of the legislature reacting to public policy and correcting overreaching in a criminal statute. Far too often the legislature overreaches in creating a new criminal statute in response to highly publicized issues.
Since “sexting” involves the exchange of sexually-explicit photos of minors, it has been prosecuted under the Child Pornography statute, which is a subsection of our Child Endangerment section. That charge can carry serious penalties such as probation, Megan’s Law, and even incarceration.
Although the act of “sexting” between minors should certainly not be condoned, that statute was not created for such acts and those penalties are far too extreme. This new law provides a means to still deter and punish kids for such behavior while not potentially ruining their future in the process.
Timothy Farrow, of Dash Farrow, LLP, is an experienced criminal defense attorney and former Prosecutor who handles these offense and crimes, misdemeanors, and traffic offense of all levels. When you need experienced, focused, and responsive legal help, call Dash Farrow, LLP at 856-235-8300 or contact us online. We serve individuals and businesses throughout Burlington and Camden County and all of South Jersey.