July 7, 2017

Juvenile Sexting: The Consequences Are Real

by James and Jon Tyack, The Tyack Law Firm Co., L.P.A.

In the previous articles we discussed the legal perils of juvenile sexting and some practical advice for parents to assist them in preventing their children from breaking the law. However, mistakes will be made, which tends to happen with all teenagers and children. We discussed how serious the consequences can be for a juvenile who makes the mistake of creating, publishing or disseminating illegal materials. So what happens when you get the call from local law enforcement?

The good news is that most prosecutors in Central Ohio treat these cases seriously and fairly. While there are no hard and fast rules to what law enforcement or a prosecutor’s office may do with these types of cases, certain situations are clearly more serious than others.

For example, a boyfriend and girlfriend exchanging private messages is clearly a different situation than one where images are obtained surreptitiously or where there is some type of public posting of the images.

Some prosecutors will charge juveniles with felonies regardless and work out a formal diversion program. Others may avoid charges in exchange for certain conditions being met by the juvenile. Some examples of what they have been required to do in these formal and informal diversion programs or as a result of an adjudication include attending a victim impact panel, writing a paper on the issue, community service, giving up their phone and internet use for a period of time, education and counseling.

It is important for teenagers to appreciate the seriousness of their actions when it comes to using their smartphones or devices to create illegal materials, whether they disseminate them or not. Hopefully most juveniles will refrain from taking these actions. While not all children will make this decision, it is important for families to understand their rights and how an attorney can help them navigate the legal consequences of their actions.

The good news in many instances is that the authorities and prosecuting attorneys allow juveniles to learn from the mistake and take steps to avoid more serious problems in the future.

Whether it’s understanding the legal consequences of this type of conduct, how best to avoid these situations for teens and parents or how to navigate the legal system once law enforcement is involved, a knowledgeable attorney can help. Find an attorney who can help with your case at directory.cbalaw.org.