Technology seems to be evolving at a much more rapid pace than at any point in recent history, and laws enacted before the widespread use of smart phones do not necessarily reflect current issues that people face. The recent issue of teen sexting at several Colorado high schools underscores the need for updates to current criminal law. A proposed bill could possibly change the harsh consequences that teenagers can face for sharing nude photos of themselves with other teens.
Currently, Colorado state law places sexting between teenagers at a felony level charge. Convictions for felony child exploitation can land a teen behind bars for 12 years in addition to the lifelong burden of being a registered sex offender. But are these harsh charges just when it comes to two teenagers mutually exchanging nude photos? Many lawmakers do not believe so.
A bill proposing lowering the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor recently hit legislation, and there are opinions on both sides of the matter. On one hand, many lawmakers believe that teenagers are simply too young to be burdened with the type of life-altering charges that are currently typical in sexting cases. On the other, opponents argue that sexting has become such a normal of teen society that even a misdemeanor charge is simply too much.
It is possible that the proposal will be amended in order to satisfy both sides of the argument, reducing the proposed misdemeanor to a petty crime. Unlike a misdemeanor, which could be punishable by up to a year in jail, a petty crime would only net a maximum of six months behind bars. While it is unclear exactly how future criminal law regarding teen sexting will ultimately be affected, each and every defendant in Colorado regardless of their age has the right to the presumption of innocence during investigative and criminal court proceedings.
Source: durangoherald.com, “In Colorado and across the country, lawmakers dealing with teen sexting“, Kristen Wyatt, March 17, 2016