Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Teens Who Sext in Virginia Could Face Child Pornography Charges that Carry Mandatory Minimum Sentences and a Lifetime of Registration as a Violent Sex Offender

Shelby Brown and WTVR, 

I watched your story on Virginia teens sexting and facing criminal charges this morning. 

Over the years I have found 3-5 cases in Virginia that prosecution was being pursued and when the media got a hold of the case the charges were either dropped or a plea to a lesser charge was made not requiring lifetime registration as a Sex Offender. 

This is an issue I have been working on for more than 5 years and I made a statement back in 2009 to the Virginia State Crime Commission about it. 

Crime Panel Refuses to Call for Measure to Curb Sexting, December 16, 2009:   

The VSCC Crime Commission ended the September 16, 2009 meeting with the summary that the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s are using good judgment when it comes to prosecuting “sexting” cases. 

I told the Commission members at the December 2009 meeting that sexting Legislation needed to be proposed at the upcoming 2010 General Assembly session, in addition to educating Virginia’s teens and young adults of the dangers of “Sexting”. Not only should the juvenile’s that send and receive these photos and videos be exempt from prosecution but their 18, 19 and 20 year old boyfriends and girlfriends should also be free of erroneous prosecution. They voted not to proceed with legislation. 

The only bill since then to be proposed at a session has been, and it failed 

Requiring a teen or young adult to register as a sex offender for sending or receiving a photo only does one thing: it undermines the Sex Offender registry. 

As a society we want to encourage the healthy sexual development of our teenagers. But there is a difference between kids being kids and kids doing criminal things. And while certain acts and behaviors may legally qualify as crimes, are we really acting in our children's best interest by prosecuting them and subjecting them to the harsh consequences of the criminal justice system? No. 

Mary Devoy