The New Sexting / Child Porn Law that Every Connecticut Parent Should Understand

Connecticut lawmakers are finally catching up with teenagers and technology.

Last week, a new Connecticut law went into effect that at long last protects and provides legal relief for Connecticut teenagers experimenting with “sexting” (that’s when teenagers consensually swap naked photos of each other with their cell phones).   The new law finally distinguishes teenage sexting from traditional child pornographers and child predatory crimes.

Under the new law, sexting between certain minors is no longer a felony crime that can be transferred to adult court and carries years of mandatory jail time. Now it’s a Class A misdemeanor for juveniles under 18.

Yes, it’s still a crime, and still serious, but no longer carries the devastating career-killing, life-changing consequences that engaging in this conduct threatened our teenagers with before this new law was enacted.

Who Benefits from this New Connecticut Sexting Law

As many of the top criminal lawyers and attorneys in Greenwich, Darien and Westport Connecticut are learning, the new law is called “Possessing or Transmitting Child Pornography by a Minor” and is codified in C.G.S. 53a-196h. The statute classifies the following two groups of sexting “senders” and “possessors / receivers” who will now be subject to a misdemeanor charge and not a felony:

Group 1: Teenagers Who Possess / Receive Naked Photos & Child Pornography

Teenagers 13 and older, but under 18, are not permitted to knowingly possess any naked photos sent consensually by a minor who is 13 or older but under 16 years old.

Group 2 – Teenagers Who Send Naked Photos & Child Pornography

Teenagers 13 and older, but under 16, are not permitted to knowingly send any child pornography to anyone who is 13 or older, but under 18.

So Who Is Permitted to Legally Sext & Send Photos?

The new law is designed to protect senders and receivers of “sext” messages and child pornography who are 13 or older, but younger than 18. Remember, and as you can confirm with any of the best Connecticut criminal lawyers who defend child pornography cases, the age of sexual consent in Connecticut is 16.

That means—and follow this closely—it’s legal for anyone 16 or over to freely “sext” and send naked photos of themselves to anyone else who is 16 or over. What is against the law is for these 16 or over teenagers to circulate naked photos of anyone under 16.

When Do Parents Not Have to Worry About these Sexting / Child Porn Laws?

A common question we get all the time. The short answer is that so long as the sexting is consensual…then you don’t have to worry about these laws once your child is 16, and so long as they are not sexting with anyone under 16 and not sending photos of anyone under 16.

I spoke about this new law with William Tong, who is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which was responsible for passing this legislation. He said he was pleased that the bill was finally enacted, especially for Connecticut teenagers who are learning how to use social media responsibly. “This law now allows teenagers to get the proper intervention and education through the juvenile court system rather than be treated similarly in court with much more serious, alleged child pornography offenders.”

What Kind of Photos are Considered Child Pornography in Connecticut under this New Law?

So what kinds of images are illegal? The short answer is that it’s any photo or video (or even a computer-generated cartoon) depicting the genitals, breasts (for females), or pubic areas of anyone under 16, or any photo or video depicting anyone under 16 engaged in actual or simulated sexual contact or intercourse, masturbation, or sadistic abuse.

More Questions? Contact the Sex Crimes Lawyers at Mark Sherman Law

Our firm’s sex crimes practice group continues to keep up with all of the ever-changing issues and technology traps that our teenagers are facing in their respective real and virtual worlds. We are here as a resource, as our attorneys regularly host coffee hours at parents’ homes and speak to parents groups and high school classes about all of the risks and dangers of social media. For more information on our firm or if your Connecticut teenager has received child pornography and you don’t know what to do, click here to see our Avvo.com certified client reviews, and then give us a call at (203) 358-4700.