Can My Child Get Arrested for Sexting in Connecticut?

In a bold move by law enforcement, New Jersey prosecutors arrested 20 high school and middle school students for sexting and circulating nude photos of a female classmate, charging them all with felony invasion of privacy crimes. And as the top Stamford, New Canaan, Darien and Greenwich Connecticut juvenile criminal lawyers would tell you, Connecticut police and prosecutors are now aggressively enforcing sexting laws, trying to put a stop to the dissemination and circulation of nude photos of students in cyberspace.

As a result, parents of Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien, Westport and Fairfield Connecticut high school and middle school students are now wondering…can my kid really get arrested in Connecticut for sexting?

When Does Sexting in Connecticut Become A Crime?

The Cape May, New Jersey probe began when a female student complained that naked photos of her best friend were being sexted and emailed among a group of male middle and high school students. As the school began to interview parents and their children, investigators analyzed and seized 27 cell phones and discovered photos of numerous nude and partially nude female students being shared among the male students through text messages, social media and emails.

This is exactly how a sexting arrest begins. The investigation is triggered by a random rumor or report at the middle school or high school level. Teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, administrators, and school aides have been given strict directives to not only immediately report sexting accusations to their supervisor, but to also call in the sexting to the police, and even the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) in certain Connecticut school sexting investigations. The prompt and heavy-handed response from school officials is designed to protect the victim—as nude and humiliating photos can be spread at lightening speed through social media.   However, as the top Connecticut juvenile school expulsion and discipline lawyers have tried to explain to schools, involving the police does not always help solve the problem, as alternatives to arresting a Connecticut high school students for sexting may be more effective, such as mandatory sexual sensitivity classes, or calling the high school student into school with his or her parents.

The Connecticut Crime of Possessing or Transmitting Child Pornography under C.G.S. 53a-196h

As any top New Canaan, Darien or Westport Connecticut criminal lawyer attorney would point out, teenagers circulating nude photos of other teenagers—even if it’s consensual—is still a crime. The crime is called Possessing or Transmitting Child Pornography by a Minor, and is codified in Connecticut’s penal code under CGS 53a-196h. Considered much less serious than Connecticut’s felony adult Possession of Child Pornography crimes, this crime is a Class A misdemeanor and in punishable by up to one year in jail, and, in certain circumstances, can trigger various sex offender requirements such as mandatory registration on a sex offender registry and complying with sex offender probation.

What Exactly is “Child Pornography” in Connecticut?

Child pornography is defined as any visual image of a child under 16 years of age engaging in sexually explicit conduct, which includes images of the child’s naked breasts or genital areas. In these days of sexually charged “selfies” and outrageous photos being swapped through social media, teenagers today are sending sexually-charged photos of themselves to each other in order to attract attention to themselves, or even more baffling, to attract “likes,” or vote of approval, to their respective social media pages. What these kids don’t appreciate, however—and what the best Stamford, Greenwich, Westport, Wilton and Weston Connecticut criminal lawyers and criminal attorneys know all too well—is that they are breaking the law in the process. This is especially true when Connecticut high school students circulate nude photos in an effort to cyber-bully a fellow student and shame them for taking nude photos of themselves. Click here for an in-depth discussion on Connecticut’s efforts to fight cyber-bullying in Connecticut.

Who Can be Arrested for Sexting in Connecticut?

Top Connecticut child pornography criminal lawyers would agree that any teenager between the ages of 13 and 17 who knowingly possesses child pornography or any nude or semi-nude images of anyone under the age of 16 can be arrested in Stamford, Greenwich, Fairfield, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton or Westport Connecticut for Possessing Child Pornography per CGS 53a-196h. This law further prohibits anyone between 13 and 15 years old from electronically transmitting these types of illegal photos and child pornography. As any top Connecticut juvenile court criminal lawyer attorney would advise, if you are under 18 and are arrested for Possessing / Transmitting Child Pornography by a Minor, then your case will be sent to the closest juvenile court. If there are more serious Possession of Child Pornography charges, then the case can be transferred to adult court. Click here for more information and details on the Connecticut juvenile court process.

Contact a Connecticut Sexting or Child Pornography Lawyer Today

So if your Connecticut high school, private school, or middle school is investigating your child for sexting or sending / receiving naked photos or child pornography—of if you have been arrested in Connecticut for Possessing / Transmitting Child Pornography by a Minor under CGS 53a-196h—then contact a Connecticut child pornography criminal lawyer attorney at Mark Sherman Law today. We will sit with you and your child to craft the most cost-effective defense strategy to fight the investigation and any criminal charges. Call us today at (203) 358-4700.