September 10, 2009
New Proposed Legislation Would Decriminalize “Sexting” by Teenagers
“Sexting” is the e-mailing by minors of nude or sexually suggestive photos of themselves to friends. Two new bills A-4069 and S-2926 would create a program in which minors charged with creating and distributing such photos would avoid prosecution by completing a course that highlights the dangers of engaging in such activity.
The creation and sponsorship of the two proposed bills comes out of a recent matter in which a 14-year old female was charged with the distribution of child pornography after posting nude photos of herself on her MySpace website. The child pornography charges were dismissed and the girl was given probation and counseling.
The new bills would require the Attorney General’s Office to develop a "sexting" education course in cooperation with the courts. The course would highlight the legal consequences of such actions and the long lasting effects of having explicit photographs circulated indefinitely on the Internet. County prosecutors would have the discretion to recommend such minors into the program. Only minors with no prior record of “sexting” would be eligible for the program.
Kenneth W. Thayer is an associate of Hill Wallack LLP in the Princeton office and a member of the firm's Litigation Division and Workers’ Compensation Practice Group. He represents major self-insured corporations, insurance companies, and clients of third-party administrators in the defense of workers' compensation claims.