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District Attorney to present new sexting bill to students

Sydney Booth

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EHS students will learn the truth on new sexting laws taking effect Jan. 1

Teens are about to get prosecuted for sexting, according to House Bill 1058 that will be inacted at the start of 2018. To make these changes clear, Weld County District Attorney, Michael Rourke, will present “Texting Above the Line” on September 14 to educate EHS students on the new law and the new repercussions of sexting.

Even though the possession of nude images of anyone under 18 is considered child pornography by the law, the only way to charge teens on sexting, prior to the new law,  was to convict them as felons–a sentence that could indefinitely ruin many lives. Many changes come with the law, including new, lesser punishments that are much more likely to be enforced.

Until recently, the only way a teen could be charged with sexting was through a felony charge: Sexual Exploitation of a Child. Heavy consequences were placed on this charge, including being listed on the sex offender registry. There are three classes of sex offenders, classified into Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III, according to the OLR Research Report. Most minors convicted of sexting would likely be in the first or second tiers. This conviction still comes with heavy penalties, including prison time (if a Tier II offender), not being able to apply for college, and inability to apply for any financial aid. According to Rourke, teens are rarely charged for sexting due to the strict penalties.

As of 2018 four different violations and penalties will be available as follows:

Civil Infraction:
  • Teens who willfully exchange nude images
  • Punishable by a $50 fine or required classes to teach teens the dangers of   sexting and its consequences
Petty Offense:
  • Teens who have a nude image of another minor without their consent 
  • Punishable by 40 days in juvenile detention and a $300 fine
  • At this level, students who are non-consentual receivers of images have 72   hours to self report to escape prosecution. In this case, a phone might not  be permenantly confiscated.
Class Two Misdemeanors:
  • Teens who share or post a nude image or video without consent OR
  • Teens who possess over 10 images of three or more people
  • Punishable by up to two years in a detention facility and a $300 fine
Class One Misdemeanors: 
  • Teens who post a photo or video of another minor with the intent to bring    about emotional harm or damage
  • Punishable by up to two years in a detention facility and a $300 fine

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District Attorney to present new sexting bill to students