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Penalties for Teen Sexting in Ohio

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What are the penalties for Teen Sexting in Ohio?  Penalties for teen sexting in Ohio are no joke.

  • Charges recorded on permanent school records and law enforcement records.
  • Search of juvenile's phone.
  • Forfeiture of cell phone and/or being barred from all cell phone use.
  • Time in juvenile detention center
  • Restraining order keeping juveniles from interacting with friends who are alleged victims of the sexting.
  • Placement on public sex offenders' registry.

Before deciding to engage in sexting, make sure you understand these legal facts:

  • Simply having an explicit image of an underage person on your phone could result in very serious charges, even if you are underage yourself. This is true even if the person depicted in the content sent it to you unsolicited.
  • Teachers are "mandatory reporters" and are obligated to report sexting activity to law enforcement.
  • School resource officers are members of law enforcement and can make arrests on school premises.
  • If the alleged victim is a minor, and you are over the age of 18, penalties are more severe. 

You are aware of some of the risks cell phones and their apps may pose to your children, but make sure you are also informed of the legal problems your child could face for their online behavior.

 The sending of explicit sexual content via text or the internet has become a very popular activity as smart phones have become a part of children's lives. According to one study by McAfee, half of adults have been involved in sexting. We are now seeing an increase in kids imitating this behavior with their phones and apps.

Legal Issues for Teens and Sexting

Sexting among juveniles raises a whole host of legal issues, even when all parties involved are themselves minors. Laws originally designed to protect children from pornographic exploitation by adults are now being used in Ohio and throughout the country to prosecute the production and sharing of explicit content by children at school. Simply having an explicit image of an underage person on your phone could result in very serious charges, even if you are underage yourself. This is true even if the person depicted in the content sent it to you unsolicited. Legal concerns also arise for teens who the produce the photograph/video, and for the ones depicted in shared electronic images.

Sharing of videos and images through texting and other apps can even result in felony charges.

Teens and pre-teens should be aware that these kinds of activities are no joke, and are not taken lightly by Courts in Warren, Butler, Montgomery, and Greene counties. We have seen young students charged with different kinds of felony sex offenses. These kids face penalties including having these charges placed on their school and law enforcement records, and even the possibility of winding up on a sex-offenders' registry.

Sexting While in School

Students should also know that teachers and other school administrators are "mandatory reporters" and are required to report instances of sexting in the school to law enforcement when they observe it.

School resource officers are also fully empowered to exercise their authority as police. Before speaking with a school resource officer (or any other law enforcement personnel) about any alleged illegal behavior, a child should consult with an attorney.

Penalties for Sexting

Charges of sexting may lead to a search of the juvenile's phone. Additionally, the minor may be barred from using all cell phone technology. Minors may also be placed under a restraining order that will limit or restrict interaction with friends or family members who are alleged victims of the sexting activity.

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Other Recent Articles by Jim Dearie:

What to Do if Your Minor Child is Arrested in Ohio

Should You Talk to An Attorney Before Talking to the Police?

Your Teen Driver Behind the Wheel:  What You Need to Know

Talk to an Attorney before talking to law enforcement

While talking to your kids about the potential moral and psychological issues that can arise from sexting as a teen, be sure to discuss the legal concerns as well. If your child has been charged or is under investigation for any sexting-related offense, contact the law offices of Dearie, Fischer & Mathews, LLC. Our firm has decades of experience in local juvenile and criminal courts working on these kinds of cases, and will work closely with you to craft your defense and protect your child's rights.

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