More than half of American children have a smartphone by age 11. Most parents provide their kids with phones for emergency purposes. However, smartphones include multiple cameras and allow users to download several social media apps, so it’s common for teens to send explicit photos to their boyfriend or girlfriend. This is a crime, and your child could face harsh penalties. If your child is facing sexting charges in Louisiana, it will be in your best interest to hire a juvenile offense attorney.
What is Sexting?
Sexting is sending or receiving an explicit photo or video through text message. With the rise in social media, sexting may also encompass messages through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat. This is common among teenagers, especially between couples.
While it may seem harmless to teens, sexting is a crime. Louisiana Statute 14:81.1 prohibits minors under 17 from knowingly and voluntarily using a computer, smartphone, or another electronic device to send and receive indecent photos.
Potential Sexting Penalties for Teenagers and Minors
If a minor sends an explicit photo, a court may send them to child protection services for a period of time. This may happen in place of a delinquency hearing. However, if a teen is charged with possession and distribution of another’s indecent photos, the prosecution can bring the case to delinquency court. Punishment may vary depending on any prior offense.
- First offense: Detention up to 10 days, a fine between $100 to $250, or both.
- Second offense: Detention between 10 and 30 days, a fine between $250 to $500, or both.
- Third and subsequent offenses: Detention between 30 days and six months, a fine between $500 and $750, or both.
In addition, a judge may sentence the minor to probation. If this happens, they may also have to complete community service.
Pornography Involving Juveniles
Under the statute, it’s also a crime to produce, distribute, or possess pornographic images and videos that involve minors. This can include film, photographs, or any reproduction that depicts someone younger than 17 performing a sexual act. Committing this crime is a felony offense and brings up to 40 years in prison. The penalties may double if the minor is younger than 13 and the offender is 18 or older.
Teens close to adulthood must be aware of this law. For example, if two 17-year-olds exchanged indecent photos, they may be tried as juveniles. If one of them was over 18, the images are pornography, and the adult may be subject to harsher penalties.
Is Sexting Tried in Juvenile or Adult Court?
Minors who commit crimes may go to juvenile court for trial. If convicted, they are known as an adjudicated delinquent. Juvenile courts also have more flexibility regarding dispositions—known as sentencing in adult court—by ordering community service or counseling. Juveniles who are convicted of sexting in Louisiana do not have to register as a sex offender.
Teenagers 18 and 19, on the other hand, will go to adult court. An adult convicted of possession or distribution of pornography involving juveniles must register as a sex offender.
Speak with a Skilled Juvenile Defense Attorney Today
There’s a lot at stake when your child is facing sexting charges. Depending on the situation, they may even be facing felony charges. Attorney Eric Johnson of the John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm has been practicing law for more than 25 years and knows how to create a viable defense strategy. He can also negotiate with prosecutors to lower the penalties or reduce the charge.
With a knowledgeable staff of legal professionals, you can be confident that Attorney Johnson will work with your best interests in mind. Protect your child’s rights today by calling (318) 377-1555 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.