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Sexting and your teenager: What are the possible consequences?

With more and more Wisconsin teenagers -- and sometimes even younger children -- having access to cellphones, it is getting progressively harder for parents to keep tabs on their children's digital communications. As can be seen in the prevalence of news stories surrounding the subject of sexting, many minors do not understand the seriousness of taking, sending or receiving nude photos. Sexting can include pictures or video sent or received via email, text message or social media.

Under current laws, a nude photo of an underage male or female is considered child pornography, even if the subject was aware that the picture was being taken or took the photo him- or herself. This means that anyone in possession of that photo is, according to the technicalities of the law, in possession of child pornography. Sending the photo on to classmates or even receiving the photo unsolicited can result in child pornography trafficking charges.

Being in possession of or distributing child pornography are serious sex crimes that can have lifelong repercussions if the person is convicted. Possible consequences could be prison time and having to register as a sex offender for life, which can make it impossible to get a job in certain industries. It can also affect the person's chances of getting into college or where he or she can live.

Minors often do not have the life experience or self-awareness to understand the possible repercussions of their actions. If your child has been charged with a sex crime relating to sexting, it is crucial that you talk with a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in defending these types of cases.

Source: Wisconsin Department of Justice, "The dangers of sexting" Dec. 20, 2014

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