Colorado legislators are hoping to pass a teen sexting bill, but with just a few weeks left in the legislative session, it doesn’t appear as though a compromise can be reached. Two bills are currently being debated. One would allow teens to take and share their nude photos. The other makes the practice illegal, but also gives the district attorneys several minor charges to file. The hope is that a third bill can be drafted and pushed through by May 10.
The biggest problem with the bills is how to charge teens who send nude photos of themselves. House Bill 1064 makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor for juveniles to send nude images and a petty offense for teenagers. Prosecutors could also charge teenagers with a felony offense for child pornography is the incident is particularly egregious.
House Bill 1302 prohibits juveniles from sharing nude photos of themselves or of another juvenile to more than one person and prohibits teenagers from sharing a juvenile’s nude photos without their consent. To do so would be a Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor.
Currently, Colorado prosecutors can only charge teenagers with a Class 3 felony charge for child sexual exploitation charge. A convictions means the teen would appear on the sex offender registry.
One advocacy group, TESSA, said that laws addressing child pornography “were designed to address adults exploiting vulnerable young children and were not intended to reach imprudent and irresponsible behavior by and among juveniles.”
The Colorado District Attorneys’ Council (CDAC) says that the felony charge must be kept. “We want the discretion to charge the felony or the lesser offense depending on what the circumstances merit,” said the executive director of the CDAC. “There would be teenage sex offenders that need treatment and assessment that we wouldn’t be able to get them into without the felony.”
Has your son or daughter been charged with a sex offense, such as sexting? If so, you need an attorney experienced in defending juveniles against these types of charges.
Source: The Denver Post, “Future of Colorado’s teen sexting laws in limbo as legislature weighs when sharing nude images is a crime,” Jesse Paul, April 11, 2017