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Sexting & Ohio’s Minors

February 9, 2016 | Written by Dan Margolis

Any parent of a teenager with a cellphone knows how much young people like to take photos and videos of themselves. Most of these images and videos are innocent, but some of them are more intimate. It is not uncommon for teens who are dating to share nude photos of themselves with each other. This is known as sexting.

What these minors might not realize is that by sexting, they are at risk of being charged with a child pornography offense — even if they are self-portraits. The fact that an image depicts a person under 18 years old engaged in sexually explicit conduct makes in child pornography under federal and Ohio law.

Sending or receiving such an image puts a minor at risk of prosecution. At the state level, a minor could face up to eight years in prison.

And don’t think prosecutors will look the other way just because the suspect is a teenager who made a mistake. In one case, a 15-year-old Ohio girl was charged with a felony when she texted a naked photo of herself to other minors. Even if there is consent from both sides, the most prosecutors will do is limit the charges to misdemeanors. But if the pictures end up in the hands of an adult or registered sex offender without the consent of the sender, felony charges could be the result.

A minor charged with child pornography faces an uncertain future at best. They need a defense attorney who understands the law regarding sexting and child pornography, and who will vigorously protect their client’s civil rights.

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