How Teens Are Affected by Sex Crime Laws in Michigan (Pt 1)

One wrong choice can mean a teen spends the rest of their life as a sex offender, and that can have disastrous results.

Usually when you hear the words “teen” and “sex crime” you assume that the teen must be the victim of a sex crime. That certainly seems like a reasonable assumption, and it happens often enough here in Michigan. But there are lots of instances where teens are actually involved in sex crimes, either as the perpetrators, or because they became unwittingly involved in something that spiraled out of control. For parents and guardians, it can be difficult to hear about these things, but being informed is often the only way we can protect our kids from unnecessary sex crime charges. And we certainly don’t want our own kids to be charged with sex assault crimes, right?

Sexting can lead to sex crime charges!

Exchanging online messages that are sexual in nature is something that many teens engage in these days. As adults we may not like it, or approve of it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it happens, and it happens a lot! How exactly could that lead to sex crime charges? Because sexting often involves more than just words. Often, teens exchange pictures as part of their sexts, and that’s where things get complicated.

Consider this: A 14-year-old girl from Lansing shares a picture of her breasts with a boy from Battle Creek that she met online. She’s unlikely to view herself as a victim, especially if she was asked (but not pressured) into the share. However Michigan laws says that anytime a naked picture of a minor is shared with someone, that’s distribution of child pornography. Taking the photo itself can be charged as manufacturing the porn. So is the boy from Kalamazoo, who is only 15-years-old, guilty of a sex crime? Is the girl? Is anyone? It makes for a very tricky scenario.

Does it classify as kiddie porn when it was voluntarily given?

This became an issue here in Michigan as soon as kids had access to cell phones with cameras. And when you consider the fact that sending someone a sexually explicit picture of a minor which they then pass on to others is not just a crime, it’s several crimes all rolled up into one. Curious? We figured you would be. Check this out:

  • Taking a picture that is sexual in nature of someone under the age of 16 is a crime:  Production of Child Sexually Abusive Material: Michigan Penal Code §750.145c(2)
  • Having that picture on your phone, on your computer or tablet or on any device that you own is a crime:  Possession of Child Sexually Abusive Material: Michigan Penal Code §750.145c(4)
  • Sending, or resending, that same picture via text message, email or any other method of transfer to another person is a crime:  Distribution of Child Sexually Abusive Material: Michigan Penal Code §750.145c(3)

There’s also “using a computer to commit a crime” which is a serious felony in and of itself. (Yes, the phone counts as a computer.) So what does that mean for kids sharing naked pics with each other online? That depends. There are a lot of circumstances that could affect how this would be handled by state and/or federal law enforcement. Join us next time for a look at how the cops tend to handle these cases, and what you need to know in advance!

Protect your kids from the harsh world of sex crime charges!

Being labelled as a “sexual criminal” is something that most kids don’t just bounce back from. Between the laws governing where they can go to school after their conviction, whether or not they have to register as sex offenders, and how they’ll be treated by their peers for the rest of their lives, this stuff is major! Which is why you’ll need an excellent and aggressive defense attorney on your side. Someone who can fight for your kid’s future. Call us today at 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail) to fight for your kids.

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