Teen Sexting – It’s Complicated (Pt 2)

A teenage girl sitting in a restaurant, smiling as she texts something on her phone.
Teens have access to so much info these days, and it can make them feel “all grown up”. But teen sexting is a difficult issue.

Welcome back. We’ve been unpacking the subject of teen sexting and why it’s such a complicated subject. As we mentioned in the previous article, there are some very strange discrepancies in Michigan’s child porn laws versus the age of consent laws, making it legal for teens to consent to something (sexual contact) that they can then get into trouble for, when they exercise that right (voluntarily sharing a sexual picture or video of themselves with someone else). So that’s tricky. And the cops have a hard time trying to figure out exactly where to draw the line on this issue as well.

What do Michigan cops do when they encounter teen sexting?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. There are so many factors that could affect how an officer or a prosecuting attorney in Michigan chooses to handle a teen sexting situation, including the ages of the kids involved, whether or not they participated voluntarily, and how their parents feel about the issue. An article in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that on average, about two-thirds of the teen sexting cases investigated involved “aggravating” circumstances. That means there was more involved than just the taking and sending of a naked “selfie.” 

What are ‘aggravating circumstances when we’re talking about teen sexting?

‘Aggravating circumstances’ in these types of cases mean that an adult was involved, or another minor engaged in non-consensual, malicious or abusive behavior (which means they coerced or bullied a teen into taking and sharing the nude selfie, or they accessed the picture somehow and then shared it without permission!) Data shows that in 62% of cases involving an adult, an arrest was made, but only 36% of minor-only cases resulted in an arrest. So as you can see, the cops are less likely to arrest someone when it’s all kids. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen!

Teens do get arrested for sharing nude selfies and videos

As you can see, cops do sometimes choose to arrest teens when they share sexual images of themselves and other teens with one another. Sometimes the charges are because the images were taken under duress, or weren’t consensually shared. But sometimes it’s because parents are horrified that their child is exchanging naked pictures of themselves with other teens, and they push for “consequences” (although they tend to prefer that the ‘other’ kids suffer the consequences while their own children avoid them altogether.)

Many cops choose warnings and ‘teachable moments’ instead

While a lot of teens end up behind bars because of sexting, more and more cops these days are realizing the detrimental long-term effects of sex crime charges on a teens future. With that in mind, a growing number of cops are choosing to erase the offending images off confiscated phones, before returning them with a warning. However, for teens who believe that any nude pictures they took of themselves are their own private property and no one has the right to tell them what pictures they can take of their own bodies, this does very little to curb the behavior.

Michigan is full of cases where teens faced charges for sexting!

Over the years, as smart phone technology has developed at an astounding rate, and just about every kid has a phone, the issue of “self-produced child pornography” may well be a growing issue. And with Michigan’s complex age of consent and child porn laws, this issue isn’t going to get any less tricky in the near future! So make sure you protect your teen’s future by calling The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 as soon as the issue of sexting and child porn comes up for your child. Our experienced and aggressive sex crime defense attorneys are available 24/7 to help by calling 1 866 7NoJail.

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