“Sexting”! What Is All This “Sexting” About Anyway?

Dodds Law Office, PC
woman with sexting phone in the park

The Illinois Legislature is considering making “SEXTING” a crime. What is it “SEXTING” you ask?

woman with sexting phone in the park

“Sexting” as the act has been termed is teens sending other teens pornographic or lewd pictures of themselves to one another.

According to another blog written by Kevin McDermott I found on stltoday.com[i] after having done a Google search, the law “would outlaw the practice [of “sexting”] (it isn’t clearly illegal right now, if there aren’t any adults involved). It would effectively declare the kid who does this to be both the perpetrator and the victim.

Under the bill, a minor caught using a computer or cell phone “to transmit an indecent visual depiction of himself or herself to another person . . . shall be adjudicated a delinquent minor” — the same thing that happens to teens who steal or vandalize.”

The synopsis of the originally proposed bill, SB 2513, found on the Illinois Legislature’s website[ii] and sponsored by Senator Ira I. Silverstein[iii] of the 8th Dist in Chicago reads as follows:

Amends the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 and the Criminal Code of 1961. Provides that a minor shall not knowingly and voluntarily and without threat or coercion use a computer or electronic communication device to transmit an indecent visual depiction of himself or herself to another person. Provides that a person shall not possess a visual depiction transmitted to the person in violation of this provision. Provides that it is not a violation if the person who receives the depiction took reasonable steps, whether successful or not, to destroy or eliminate the visual depiction within a reasonable time after discovering the depiction. Provides that a person 18 years of age or older who violates the provision is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Provides that a minor who transmits the indecent visual depiction shall be adjudicated a delinquent minor under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. Provides that a minor who transmits the indecent visual depiction who has previously been adjudicated for such violation may be either adjudicated a delinquent minor under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 or subject to discretionary transfer for prosecution under the criminal laws of the State in accordance with the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. Provides for the automatic expungement of the juvenile law enforcement and court records of a minor charged with or adjudicated delinquent for the violation.

After some amendments made by the Criminal Law committee, the proposed bill appears to have passed the Senate after its third reading on March 18, 2010, and arrived at the house on the same day. The house sponsor is Representative Darlene J. Senger (R)[iv] of the 96th District in Napperville. The bill as amended appears to now be in the Rules Committee of the House.

According to an article online at the Chicago Sun-Times[v], the bill as amended by the house would not require the minor to register as a sex-offender, which concerned a large portion of the Illinois lawyers following the bill who practice criminal law. According to the article at the Sun-Times’ website Senger was quoted as saying that “The goal of this legislation is creating awareness. . . .parents are very concerned with what’s going on with cell phone cameras. Kids are being bullied. Girls are committing suicide because of what’s going on.”

Is the proposed bill too harsh on our youth? A second time and you could be tried as an adult?

Is it something needed or is just another act made criminal by our government in its position as in loco parentis (Latin for “in the place of a parent” or “instead of a parent,”); or Is it something that should simply be left to the parents of the minors? I am not sure I have a position on whether or not it should be made criminal, but instead will let you be the judge. You’re free to voice your opinion here, but your voice would be better heard by writing your representative – and quickly I suspect. While many of us express our likes and dislikes of our government in different forums (at work, at school, in the coffee house, over breakfast, or in our favorite watering hole), how many of us actually take the time to let our opinions be known to those who actually make the laws affecting us? I know I’m guilty of not expressing my opinions on what really matter. In fact, I have been more inclined to take the time to write a corporation that sparked an emotional response over a far less trivial matter than actually take the time to write my congressman about a tax or other act of Congress that would have far more reaching affects on my life.

I am glad to see though that this will likely not be a registerable offense; at least not for now. On another, yet similar note, I was glad to see the Illinois Legislature make misdemeanors punishable under the Juvenile Court Act for our youth who are 17 years of age.

Anyway, what say you? Say it quickly though, because I am quite confident this will be a law in the Illinois Compiled Statutes soon enough.

[i] http://interact.stltoday.com/blogzone/political-fix/political-fix/2010/02/illinois-legislature-taking-on-teen-sexting-controversy/

[ii] http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=2513&GAID=10&DocTypeID=SB&LegId=49124&SessionID=76&GA=96#actions

[iii] http://www.ilga.gov/senate/senator.asp?GA=96&MemberID=1438

[iv] http://www.ilga.gov/house/rep.asp?GA=96&MemberID=1544

[v] http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/2098412,CST-NWS-sexting12web.article

Attorney Terry Dodds has been protecting the rights of the people of Bloomington, Illinois for over 20 years. Whether you were injured in an accident, or you have been charged with a crime, Terry Dodds can tip the scales of justice in your favor.

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