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Sexting can result in serious penalties for minors

Sexting, or texting sexually explicit images, has become more popular in the recent years in Pennsylvania and across the country. This scandalous activity has involved all ages of individuals, but concerns over minors "sexting" have continued to grow. 

Pennsylvania enacted a law in 2012 to address sexting involving minors. Under the law, juveniles will be charged with a summary offense for trading graphic images of minors. This is different than some other states who treat juveniles the same as adult sex offenders. 

Minors age 12 and older will be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor for sending or distributing a graphic image of a minor who is 12-years-old or older. Minors can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor for harassing or causing emotional distress when using a sexually graphic image of a minor without his or her consent. 

Minors who are charged with these offenses are required to complete a program that educates them on the dangers of sexting. The individual's record will be expungement if they complete the program.

Legislators approve this law to make sure minors were being appropriately punished for sexting. They said the law helps to curb child pornography but it does not make juvenile offenders subject to the same punishments as adult sex offenders.

Minors need to be aware of the serious consequences they can face for sexting. It is considered a type of child pornography, which can result in severe penalties that can follow you for the rest of your life. While there are programs available to reduce the penalties, you need to take certain steps to ensure your future is being protected.

A criminal defense attorney can protect you or your child's rights. Do not wait to talk to a lawyer if you or your child has been accused of sexting. 

Source: York Dispatch News, "Pa. law fits punishment with crime for sexting minors," Jessica Schladebeck, Nov. 15, 2015

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