Florida eases up on sexting penalties

Penalties regarding teen ‘sexting’ in Florida have been reduced. The state law, first passed in June, prohibits teens from sending nude photos via phone. Beginning Oct. 1, changes have been made to penalties for violators of this law.

Under the earlier law, a teen caught sending nude photos or videos could have been charged with a felony and required to register as a sex offender.

Under the new law, the first offense is a non-criminal violation, accompanied by either eight hours of community service or a $60 fine. A second violation is a first-degree misdemeanor. The third offense is a felony, which could come with a prison sentence up to 5 years.

The law was originally designed to take into account advanced in technology in child pornography laws.

“(This bill) modernizes these laws to ensure that children’s lives are not ruined due to youthful indiscretion. This reform will let our youth know that such behavior is wrong without labeling them sex offenders for the rest of their lives,” said State Representative Joseph Abruzzo, according to CNN.

The consequences of being registered as a sex offender are far reaching. Philip Alpert, a registered sex offender as a result of sending a nude photograph of his 16-year-old girlfriend, was arrested by the Florida police for his crime.

The 18-year-old was kicked out of college, will be forced to retain the label of “registered sex offender” until age 43, and had his freedom traveling out of country is limited. Alpert says his legal status makes it difficult for him to find a job, and mentions the social consequences of bearing such a label.

Currently, in California, ‘sexting’ can result in possible charges of creating, distributing, and possessing child pornography. Though these laws are primarily designed to address adults’ abuse towards minors, minors are not except from possible charges.