Pennsylvania Sexting Charges
As there is not enough for Pennsylvania parents to worry about, add to the list the possibility of their minor children facing criminal prosecution if they are caught sending a sexually explicit image. “Sexting” is a thing and it has been going on for a while in this new world where post-toddlers are handed iphones and ipads and android phones and Gameboys and these devices allow texting and messaging and selfies. If you are a teenage facing sexting charges or have a teenager who is facing sexting charges, contact the experienced attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices.
In 2012, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a new criminal statute PA title 18, section 6321, “Transmission of Sexually Explicit Images by a Minor”. Under this statute it is a summary offense if a minor, Knowingly transmits, distributes, publishes or disseminates an electronic communication containing a sexually explicit image of himself or Knowingly possesses or knowingly views a sexually explicit image of a minor who is 12 years of age or older.
The charges are more severe, a misdemeanor of the third degree if the Commonwealth can prove that the minor knowingly transmits, distributes, publishes or disseminates an electronic communication containing a sexually explicit image of another minor who is 12 years of age or older; a misdemeanor of the second degree if it can be proven that the minor intended to coerce, intimidate, torment, harass or otherwise cause emotional distress to another minor, the minor:
(1) makes a visual depiction of any minor in a state of nudity without the knowledge and consent of the depicted minor; or
(2) transmits, distributes, publishes or disseminates a visual depiction of any minor in a state of nudity without the knowledge and consent of the depicted minor.
Under this statute there is authority for a magisterial district judge or other judicial authority to direct a minor to go into a diversion program to learn the legal and nonlegal consequences of sexting, and upon successful completion, the person’s records of the charge are to be expunged.
In a recent 2019 case, attorney Ciccarelli was successful in obtaining a diversion program for a client who was facing these charges.