Darien Sexting Defense Lawyer
If your child is facing charges for sending or receiving child pornography, retaining an experienced Darien sexting lawyer could be key to preserving their future prospects. A knowledgeable defense attorney could explain how state juvenile courts generally approach this kind of offense and help build a strong defense strategy that serves your family’s best interests.
What Does Sexting Mean?
In layman’s terms, sexting involves sending sexually explicit photos, typically by text message. In legal terms, Connecticut General Statutes §53a-196h outlines the offense of “possessing or transmitting child pornography by minor.” According to this section of state law, it is illegal for anyone under 18 years of age to knowingly have in their possession any “visual depiction of child pornography” that was knowingly and voluntarily sent to them by the subject of that depiction by electronic means. Additionally, it is unlawful for any person under 16 years of age to transmit via electronic means a visual depiction of themselves in an intimate position and/or engaged in explicit sexual conduct to another person under the age of 18.
It should be noted that sexting between two individuals who are at least 16 years old is not a crime in the State of Connecticut. However, any minor who knowingly sends or receives child pornography—which even a nude selfie qualifies as—could face adjudication in juvenile court. A qualified Darien sexting attorney could go into more detail about what specific behaviors are illegal under state law and what the best course of action for contesting such a charge might be.
What Consequences Could Come from a Sexting Conviction?
By the letter of the law, a violation of C.G.S. §53a-196h is a class A misdemeanor. This means that if someone charged with this offense were tried and convicted as an adult, the maximum sanctions they could face as a result would be a one-year jail sentence and/or a $2,000 fine. However, since the primary purpose of this law is to protect minors who might engage in ill-advised behavior before they reach maturity and to prevent the proliferation of child pornography in all forms, teenagers charged with this offense are rarely prosecuted as adults.
What Happens in Juvenile Court?
Cases for minors are usually heard in juvenile court, where an adjudication—the juvenile court equivalent of a conviction in criminal court—could result in more age-appropriate consequences like formal warnings, a period of probation, a fine, or at worst a maximum of 18 months in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. A sexting attorney in Darien could provide dedicated guidance and support throughout either type of proceeding.
Possible Defenses to Sexting Allegations
Although violating C.G.S. §53a-196h is not treated like a child pornography offense for the purposes of prosecution and sentencing, it is still technically a criminal offense involving the transmission of child pornography. This can actually be a benefit to defendants in some situations, since it means the affirmative defense applicable to child pornography possession charges levied against adults can also be applied to underage sexting charges levied against minors.
Specifically, under C.G.S. §53a-196g, a person cannot be convicted of unlawfully possessing child pornography if all the following are true:
- The defendant never possessed more than two visual depictions of child pornography, none of which were a film, video, or any other series of images meant to be displayed in a continuous order
- The defendant did not knowingly purchase, request, solicit, or otherwise intentionally come into possession of the illicit material in question
- The defendant “promptly and in good faith” destroyed or deleted the illicit material once they became aware of it and/or reported it to law enforcement
In other words, if a person under the age of 18 receives a naked photo of someone under 16 sent by that other minor without asking for it and then immediately deletes the photo, they have not committed a criminal offense and cannot be prosecuted for it in adult criminal court or adjudicated guilty for it in juvenile court. It is also an affirmative defense to charges for child pornography possession that the defendant possessed the material in question for a “bona fide” artistic, educational, or religious purpose.
Outside of the exceptional situations noted above, successful strategies for fighting back against underage sexting allegations usually revolve around proving that the parties involved were not actually underage, that the defendant did not willingly send or receive the images in question, or that the images sent were not sexually explicit to the degree that they would constitute visual depictions of child pornography in legal terms. A Darien sexting defense attorney could provide irreplaceable guidance about potential strategies and options during a private initial consultation.
When Can Sexting Become a More Serious Criminal Offense?
Consent is generally not relevant to sexting allegations in Connecticut, in the sense that the minors involved in this kind of offense can still be charged with and convicted of a crime even if they both consented to the exchange of explicit images. However, if a person under 18 receives sexually explicit depictions of a person under 16 sent to them consensually by that individual, and then disseminates those images online or to other people they know in their personal life, they may face substantially more serious criminal charges for unlawful dissemination of an intimate image and/or distribution of child pornography.
Likewise, if a person under 16 sends a sexually explicit depiction of themselves to a person over 18 who knowingly receives and intentionally retains that depiction, or if a person over 18 knowingly and intentionally sends an explicit depiction of themselves to a minor under 16, the adult involved in that exchange could face felony-level criminal charges completely separate from the underage sexting offense defined in C.G.S. §53a-196h. A sexting defense lawyer in Darien could explain in further detail how unique situations like this might play out and what defense options might be available.
Talk to a Darien Sexting Attorney as Soon as Possible
If you want to contest underage sexting allegations made against your child, assistance from a Darien sexting lawyer may be crucial to effectively pursuing the outcome you want. Our skilled lawyers are ready to take your call 24/7. Learn what it’s like to work with our firm by heading over to Avvo.com to read our over 300 5-star reviews.