Sexting: The New Way Minors Are Recieving Criminal Records

Highschool one of the many first times students are exposed to things such as sex, partying, drugs, and trying to balance individual life with school. Many of us learn the dangers of what to do and not to do due to it being dangerous or we could be arrested. Thanks to the HIP club located in the school incoming freshman are able to learn how to safely attend parties, have sex, and avoid drugs. However one topic many don’t discuss in this current technological day and age is sexual crimes teens can commit and end in jail for. Some of these crimes are possession of child pornography, dsitribution of child pornography, and creation of child pornography.  Many individuals don’t know how media is now used as evidence for these crimes, and how minors can even get at least 7 years per a sexual interent crime. This article is to provide information on this topic that is a growing issue for jueveniles being arrested due to not knowing why. 

One thing teenagers don’t know is how illegal sexting is, in fact it is considered a federal crime when one is in possession of pornographic or sexually exploting images of a minor. As many of us know a portion of the teenager population are minors, or have legally by the age of 18 became an adult under law. Now for those who do not know what sexting is, it is the act of sending or recieving explicit images from another person through digital devices. This is illegal and punishabe with an extremely high prison setence when the images are of a minor or when the minor is directed to create, send, and share images of themselves to someone who is 18+. A federal crime is an offense that specifcally violate U.S federal laws, in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) carry out the penalties that are far more severe than state penalties.

Child pornography crimes are considered a federal crime if it has expanded beyond the singler state that individual lives in, however if it is only in that state the crimes may be considered a state crime though that tends to hardly be the case.

Online chat rooms, text messages, and media such as kik, snapchat, instagram, twitter, whatsapp, and many more are common sources used by teens to communicate with and send pornographic messages to each other. Though it seems this article only applies to those who are 18+ it is in fact not, as these federal laws do not have an age requirement for prosecution. Meaning that anyone can get arrested and charged for these crimes regardless if they are younger or older than 18.

How Does Participation Affect Being Charged?

Voluntarily participation in sexual acts with other minors which can be posted through many forms of social media. Not only has the person who created the picture or video committed several crimes but those who recieve the images or videos and possess it have commited crimes. When it comes to these penalties each sentence can be different however it is still a federal felony.

However if the individual is an involuntary participant the charges would be considered an unlawful intrusion. For example student A is in a locker room while changing after gym class and has a photo taken by student B without their consent. Student B would be charged with unlawful intrusion as well depending on how far student A was undressed it can be charged as production and distribution of child pornography.

Overall recipients of any sexual content containing a minor can recieve charges just for having it sent to them or in their social media devices. Some of the charges just for having sexual images, videos, or content of minors on ones phone means federal or state felony charges and lifelong registration as a sex offender.

Federal Charges Teens Can Recieve

The chart below shows some of the crimes of which this article will be touching in terms of sexual federal crimes:

Federal ChargeDescription Years in Prison
18 USC 2251sexual exploitation of children 15 – 30 years
18 USC 1466obscene representation of children 10 – 40 years
18 USC 2252matericals depicting sexual explotation of minors 10 – 40 years
18 USC 2422coercion and enticement 10 years – Life
18 USC 1470transfer of obscene material to minors10 – 40 years

18 USC 2251: Sexual Exploitation of Children

This section goes into the topic of the prohibitation of using, persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing a minor, or transporting a minor with the intent for that minor to engage in sexual explicit activities for the purpose of prodicing visual depictions. It also states about how gaurdians can not knowingly permit minors to be sexually exploited, and prohibits employing minors into engaging in sexual activities outside of the US for pornographic usage. This section prohibits the making, printing, and publishing of an advertisement to seek or offer to recieve, exchange, produce, buy, display, distribute and reproduce images, videos, or media of a minor participating in sexual activities.

The minimum penalty for attempt or conspiracy is 15 to 30 years if the defendant has never had a prior conviction. However if the defendant has 1 prior convition or any state conviction the minimum pentalty is 25 to 50 years. If this individual has 2+ convictions the individual can recieve 35 years to life in prison.

18 USC 1466: Obscene Visual Representation Of The Sexual Abuse of Children

This section prohibits individuals to knowingly produce, distribute, recieve, or possess with intent to distribute a visual depiction such as a drawing, sculpture, painting, cartoon of a minor engaging in sexually explicit actions. This can include things such as the minor engaging in sadistic, masochistic abuse, sexual intercourse in any way. It also prohibits the conspiracy of visual depictions of a minor.

The prison sentence can easily be from 5 to 20 years in prison, unless a prior convistion of any sexual crimes both state and federal the individual shall recieve between 15 to 40 years of prison.

18 USC 2252: Activities Relating to Material Involving Sexual Exploitations Of Minors

This section prohibits any transportation, selling, reproduction, conspiracies, and possession of visual depiction of a minor in sexual explicit activities, this section also applies to computers, cell phones, and any technological devices. It as well prohibits the receiving or distribution of these visual depictions in any way. This applies to things such as books, magazines, periodicals, films, video tapes, photos, and other physical objects which contain a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Just the attempt and conspiracy the defendant can experience 5 to 20 years of prison . If this individual has one convition federally or state they can experience 15 to 40 years in prison.

18 USC 2422: Coercion and Enticement

This section prohibits knowingly persuading, coercing, and enticing any individual to engage in prostitution or in any sexual activity that is illegal. Which can have the maximum penalty of 20 years. It also prohibits the use of mail or any transport such as media to persuade, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in prostitution.

If it is to a victim older than 18 the penalty is 20 years, however if the victim is a minor the penalty is 10 years to life in prison.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

18 USC 1470: Transfer Of Obscene Material To Minors

This section prohibits mailing or using media to transfer obscene matter to someone else who has not attained the age of 16 years old, knowing that the other individual has not attained that age. The defendant can experience at least 10 years of prison.

These are just some federal crimes minors can be charged. Each sentence is applied for each image, poster, video, text message, and more in which is to sexually exploit a minor in any way.

The Main Issue

Teenagers aren’t aware of the consequences of their actions especially in terms of sexting. Forensics can easily get the lost data of photographs, videos, and track links through social media. Teens are ending up in jail due to the fact of committing federal felonies in which can lead them to a life in prison over the severity.

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Victoria Sosa

Victoria Sosa is a dedicated writer and editor of ​​The Caduceus Times, as well as a student at MAST@ Homestead. She is focused on touching the topics of entertainment and featured articles, allowing her readers to go through a journey through her writing. Her love for writing came from reading at a young age, as well the curiosity of the world around her. When not working, you can find her writing short fiction stories, listening to crime podcasts, or exploring new hobbies.