Is Teen Sexting A Fad Or Is It Child Pornography?

  • Mar 20 2019

According to a recent study, 1 in 7 teens have sent a sexually charged picture or video, aka a “sext.” 1 in 4 teens have received such a message. Under Florida law, all of those teens could become sex offenders.

At Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC, we frequently defend minors and young adults who have been charged with sexting or other sex crimes. Below is a run-down of the differences between sexting and other sex crimes children and young adults may be charged with after exchanging sexts. Keep in mind, these are all serious offenses which could land you in prison, and brand you as a sex offender for the rest of your life, so if you or a loved one has been charged with one of these crimes, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.


Cellphones are ubiquitous, and mainstream media outlets like Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan promote articles that offer advice on how to send sexy messages to your partner, so is it any wonder that so many teens are sexting? The problem is nude pics of people under the age of 18 are not just your everyday sexts, they are child pornography.

Rather than locking up a good chunk of the next generation and labeling them sexual predators, the Florida legislature has passed a law criminalizing sexting. Having sexting as a crime allows prosecutors to charge minors with this relatively low-level offense instead of charging them with the possession, manufacturing, or distribution of child pornography.

Under Florida law, sexting is defined as knowingly:

(a) using a computer, or any other device capable of electronic data transmission or distribution, to transmit or distribute to another minor any photograph or video of any person which depicts nudity, and is harmful to minors


(b) possessing a photograph or video of any person that was transmitted or distributed by another minor which depicts nudity, and is harmful to minors.

So, if you are a minor, sending or receiving nude pics of someone under 18 is a crime. It doesn’t matter who is in the photo or video, so long as they are under 18. Having a photo or video sent to you out of the blue is just as bad as asking someone to take a picture or video and send it to you.

How someone convicted of sexting is punished depends on how often he or she engages in the activity. The first offense is a noncriminal violation punishable by 8 hours of community service or a $60 fine. The second offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree, which is punishable by up to 364 days in county jail or a $1,000 fine. The third offense is a felony of the third degree, which is punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of $5,000.

More Than Nudes

You may have noticed that the sexting statute is all about nude pics. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that teens are sending more than nudes to one another. When teens exchange photos or videos depicting sexual conduct or sexual excitement, they may be charged with possessing, manufacturing, promoting, or distributing child pornography, which is a much more serious crime that can be charged at the state or federal level.

Anyone found guilty of a child pornography crime may be imprisoned for several years and/or charged a hefty fine. They will also be labeled a sex offender for the rest of their life.

One Sext Does Not A Predator Make

At Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC, we understand that making poor choices when you are young does not mean you are a sexual predator. We work hard to protect our clients from their own mistakes, so they can learn from the experience and move on with their life rather than have it define them for the rest of their life.

Posted in: Sex Crimes