Sexting. Is it a crime in Massachusetts?

  • Irvin Rakhlin
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What are the laws surrounding texting photos?

Many parents of teenagers are concerned about their child’s cell phone usage resulting in criminal charges. The most common type of criminal charge that parents are concerned about is known as sexting. Often times there is a temptation for a teenager to either request or share these types of images without thinking about the fact that law enforcement would view it as creation, possession, and/or distribution of child pornography. This type of serious offense does not particularly register in the mind of a 13 or 14 year old hormonal teenager when they are simply excited to see a picture of a classmate in the nude.

When does an innocent text turns into a criminal charge?

When sexting is discovered by a school, the parents of the individual depicted, or law enforcement, the situation can escalate into a criminal matter rather quickly. Children who are often cooperative with authorities will often unknowingly give full confessions of their behavior without understanding the long-term ramifications. A young person’s entire life could be destroyed by the mere charging of such criminal conduct. Years down the road the person viewing their criminal record may not stop to think about what age the person would have been at the time of the alleged conduct.

While it is important to speak to your children about this type of behavior, it may be that they engage in it despite warnings, or have already done so before having had such a talk. Parents in that situation tend to feel guilty, and may speak freely with law enforcement despite that not being in their child’s best interest. The most beneficial thing to do if you suspect your child has been engaged in such texting, or is the victim of sexting, is to call an experienced criminal defense attorney who can assist with the situation, and potentially reach out to the police or the school before the matter is escalated.


Abundance of social media outlets

The problem teenagers face today is that they have nearly constant access to social media and cell phones, but little in the way of life experience. They don’t think about the potential pitfalls and consequences of sending a nude image of themselves to a peer. With the plethora of apps young people use to communicate nowadays, it would be almost impossible to constantly monitor a child’s behavior on a mobile device. Therefore, it is important to have a thoughtful and poignant discussion on the subject before a child is given a cell phone with unrestricted access. Some parents also find it helpful to have an attorney who has had experience with these types of cases speak to their child because he or she has vantage point that is a little less close to home, and may be better received.
If you have been made aware that your child has been involved in some type of sexting behavior, or would like a professional to speak with your child prior to such behavior becoming a problem, please call Rakhlin Law at 617-564-0466 for a free and confidential consultation as to the perils and pitfalls of social media messaging that are a regular part of a young person’s life in today’s society.

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