Friday, March 14, 2014

Virginia: Chesterfield youth could face child porn charges for ‘sexting’

This is the second time in 5 weeks (see newest article below) that Virginia juveniles who created and distributed sexual images under no threat, force or intimidation are facing possible felony charges for child pornography that carry a lifetime public label as Violent Sex Offender. 

As I wrote back on February 6, 2014 the Virginia Legislators had a bill THIS session proposing changes so that minors who “sext” would NOT be arbitrarily swept up by our child porn statutes but the elected officials decided to “kill” in it’s first step instead of working on it. 

Juveniles across the Commonwealth take, send and receive sexual images of friends, classmates and teammates daily, it’s what teens do today, unfortunately. But it should not be a criminal offense with a mandatory minimum prison term and a lifetime as a registered sex offender. Such a fate is not productive for the state or for the juvenile and neither is the looming threat of prosecution while the Commonwealth Attorney mulls over filing charges or not filing charges for this behavior. While they wait to learn their fate one of them might give up waiting in fear like Christian Adamek of Alabama did in October 2013.

Obviously the Virginia Legislators don’t take this issue seriously and until one of their own children takes, sends or receives a “sext” from an acquaintance they will continue to refuse to seriously discuss this issue during session.

I also posted about Virginian teens facing felony child porn charges back on November 27, 2013 This is NOT a new issue and it is NOT going to fade away if we ignore it.


Chesterfield youth could face child porn charges for ‘sexting’, March 14, 2014

Chesterfield Police say two youngsters were caught sending each other naughty pictures of themselves.  

Under current Virginia law, they can be charged with distributing child pornography.  

"If you take a photograph of yourself and you are under 18 and you distribute that," said NBC 12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin. "You are distributing child pornography. The law makes no exception for that." 

A bad decision could leave your child labeled a sex offender. 

"We need to fine tune our child pornography laws," said Benjamin. "Because I don't think we intend these kinds of consequences and those kinds of labels on teenagers or juveniles who are just exploring their own curiosity." 

We spoke to local people who say the law seems too harsh. 

"I think it's ridiculous," said Kristie Jones. "This is why I don't have kids." 

Benjamin says parents should take note of this story.  

"If the juvenile is less than 15-years-old the sentence is anywhere between five and 30 years," said Benjamin. "The greater the age difference between the subject and the defendant, the greater the punishment." 

The Commonwealth Attorney's office would not comment on the case. They would only say they try and enforce the spirit and intention of the law in these types of cases.