Sexting In Florida
Sexting is defined as various forms of transmitting nude or sexually graphic photographs by way of cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices. Typically, sexting includes partially nude, nude, and/or sexually suggestive pictures of individuals of adults or teens. While it is not a crime to participate in sexting between two adults, many states have made sexting between teens illegal. According to Florida Statue 847.0141, created in 2011, any minor in the state of Florida is who caught creating, sending, or possessing nude photos of a minor, will be charged with a non-criminal civil violation. Under this law, depending on the circumstances, a minor can be charged with a citation, first degree misdemeanor, or a third degree felony. Punishment for a first offense will include a combination of a $60 fine, eight (8) hours community service, and participate in educational cyber safety programs or classes. Failure to comply results in the offender being held in contempt and will lose driving privileges for 30 consecutive days along with the prior punishment. The offender also waives the right to contest the citation. A second offense will result in a first degree misdemeanor and a third offense will result in a third degree felony. If an adult has been found sexting to a minor (under 18), the charge would become a sex crime classified as child pornography.
Florida Legislature's Sexting Law Mistake
In 2015, an appellate lawyer in West Palm Beach noticed and pointed out that the Legislation of Florida flubbed in creating a law against teen sexting, in turn making it perfectly legal. The 2011 Florida sexting law makes the act a non-criminal (civil) violation for first-time offenders. Here's the catch. Florida courts do not have jurisdiction over civil offenses for minors. The sexting law does not grant any court jurisdiction over this matter. Therefore, there is not one court in the state of Florida that currently has the authority to hear or prosecute a teen sexting case. The sexting law is one hundred percent unenforceable. And since the Florida Statues consist of a layered structure, the more serious and repetitive offenses can not occur because the initial offense cannot occur, therefore the minor cannot be convicted of second or third offenses.
Adult Sexting to a Minor = Child Porn
In Florida, child pornography laws have been established to protect child exploitation of visual materials of minors that are of sexual conduct. If an adult has shared or received sexual or nude images of a child under the age of 18, he or she will be charged with sending or possessing child pornography. Transmitting child pornographic material through an electronic device to a minor is a third degree felony in Florida. Secondly, it is also illegal for an adult to share or transmit photographs of nude or sexual content to a minor and can be convicted accordingly upon sex crime laws. Thirdly, any adult that is found sharing nude or sexual photos of another adult without his or her permission, or that sends nude or sexually graphic photos to a person who does not want sexually graphic pictures sent to them, will be charged with harassment or sued with the civil court for emotional damages and distress. Since Florida laws criminalize the possession, viewing, or control of visual material of minors engaging in sexual activity, a prosecutor will charge the defendant with child pornography. The prosecutor must prove the offender has viewed photographs, computer images, films, or some sort of sexual content that includes a minor or minors engaging in sexual conduct. The prosecutor must also prove the defendant voluntarily and knowingly engaged in the sex crime and has viewed more than "one single image" over a period of time.
Penalties and Sentencing
An adult that has been found in possession, control, or has viewed child pornography in Florida faces a third degree felony charge. If convicted, the offender may receive a fine of up to $5,000, up to five (5) years imprisonment, or both.
For each offense of the production or promotion of child pornography by the defendant, the state is permitted to pursue a second degree felony. Conviction of this sex crime will result in a fine of up to $10,000, up to fifteen (15) years imprisonment, or both.
If the offender has been found as a habitual offender or career criminal, the charges and sentencing may be enhanced to more severe charges with harsher penalties.
Additionally, most convictions will require the offender to registry as a sex offender on the Florida Sex Offender Database
Pedophile and Sexual Predator Exposure
Across the United States, police and law enforcement agencies are continuously warning teens and even adults the dangers of sexting. This is in part because if the sexually explicit pictures get on the internet, the images will become available to anyone and everyone. This includes sexual predators and pedophiles who continuously scroll and troll for sexual images involving children and young teens under the age of 18. Commonly, when sexual images have been distributed through sexting to more than one person, the images will eventually make way to the collections of the pedophile or sexual predator. In more disturbing cases, the pedophile or sex offender will try to track down the minor in the picture and use the sexual images as blackmail so they can receive more sexually graphic pictures or even worse, try to arrange a meeting between the pedophile and young teen for a sexual encounter. Pedophiles will also use sextortion and cyberbully against minors as young as six (6) years old up to eighteen (18) years old. These pedophiles known as "cappers" will befriend young minors through online chat rooms and convince them to show nude photographs or videos. Once the minor complies with the predator,he or she will use the videos or photo's as blackmail and cyberbully to gain more videos and photos. Cappers will also search the internet for videos and sexually graphic photos young girls post online and "capture" them into pictures. The pedophiles will then use the videos or photos to cyberbully and blackmail young teens for their own sexual pleasure. The best thing to do is never send sexually graphic images over your cell phone or computer device to anyone or on social media networks or internet chat rooms. This will avoid exposure to pedophiles and sex offenders as well as avoid any sextortion or cyberbully
The act of sextortion has become an increasingly common trend in the United States and worldwide. Sextortion is defined as a broad category of sexual exploitation in which the abuser uses coercion or fear as a blackmail tactic. The individual will threaten to distribute sexually sensitive private information or images to family, friends, schools, for social media if the other individual does not comply and provide more sexual images or even worse, sexual favors or money to the extortionist. Out of fear of people finding out, the victim will continue to send sexually explicit images in attempt to keep the abuser at bay. This can be extremely damaging to the complying teen because the extortionist will acquire more and more embarrassing photos at his or her disposal to extort the victim. The abuser plays off the fear of the victim and the necessity to uphold indiscretion from family, friends, school, or social media and typically targets girls 8 to 17 years of age. If you are a teen and are in this position, the best thing to do is go to the person you trust most, get help, and get the extortionist arrested for child pornography. Do not worry what others will say. You do not have to fight this alone.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: Sextortion Statistics
78% of the incidents involved female children and 12% involved male children (In 10% of incidents, child gender could not be determined);
The average age at the time of the incident was approximately 15 years old, despite a wider age-range for female children (8-17 years old) compared to male children (11-17 years old); and
In 22% of the reports, the reporter mentioned being suspicious of, or knowing that, multiple children were targeted by the same offender.
A common trend of cyberbully has swept the nation with critical effects on young teen girls and boys. As a consequence of teen sexting, a photo that is of sexual nature that was intended for only one recipient, but was exposed to many other individuals may cause for ridicule, teasing, and bullying of the sender. If a nude photo or sexually graphic photo is distributed to peers and classmates, the bullying will begin. The ridicule and bullying do not stop there. Teens and young adults will take to the social networking sites and expose the owner of the photos and also through text messages. Social media can be a horrific platform for cyberbully and can often to lead to the victim committing suicide. In the case of Jessica Logan (1990-2008), she had sent nude photos to her boyfriend, who in turn distributed her photos to hundreds of recipients in at least seven (7) local high schools after the couple had broken up. Jessica Logan was consistently cyberbullied through MySpace, Facebook, and text messages. The effects on the cyberbully proclaimed the life of young 18-year- old Jessica Logan. She hung herself to end the pain of cyberbully Less than one (1) year later, a young 13 year old named Hope Sitwell hung herself after a picture of her breast that was sent to her boyfriend was shared among six other students at different schools. A social media page was created in the attempt to cyberbully the young teen named "Hopes Hater Page" that was started on MySpace. Her parents never knew of the page or the additional bullying because of cyberbully until after her suicide. Another sad story of cyberbully is the story of Amanda Todd. She was a beautiful 15-year-old girl in British Columbia that hung herself due to sextortion and cyberbully She cried out for help through a You-Tube video in which she tells her story of depression, sextortion, and cyberbully through a series of flash cards. She posted this video one month before her suicide. Since 2012, the video has been viewed 28 million times. If you find yourself in this position of being cyberbullied, go to someone you trust and to authorities immediately and tell them your situation so you can get help and stop the bullying.
Job Placement/College Admissions
Increasing throughout the years is the trend of employers and Universities checking the social media outlets and backgrounds of new applicants. Prospective employers or schools will look into the history and posts of that applicant to see what type of person the applicant is as well as if there are any sexually graphic photographs or videos. Employers and schools will also look for any criminal history or posts about criminal activity. If employers or colleges see this type of sexual activity or criminal activity, most likely they will pass on your application, even if you have exceptional grades or qualifications. Employers are looking to social media sites of applicants to see if there is bad judgment within the applicant. If employers or colleges see bad judgment, most likely they will not be interested in you as an applicant. Many employers require their employees and new applicants to provide any and all social media passwords of the employees. As of 2014, nineteen (19) states have passed the anti-snooping bill. Florida has yet to join that bill.
Florida Statue 847.0141 (Sexting)
Florida Statue 827.071 (Child Porn)
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Sextortion Fact Sheet