Florida Tries to Make Teen Sexting a Crime, Actually Makes Teen Sexting Impossible to Prosecute

I think a "LOL" is appropriate here.



Every now and then lawmaking goes delightfully, rather than horribly, wrong. Today in this rare but beautiful category: a Flordia law meant to criminalize teen sexting actually makes it impossible for the state to prosecute teens for sending each other sexual images.  

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate explains

In 2011, the legislature passed a "sexting" statute barring minors from sending images of nudity (their own or somebody else's) to other minors. The first offense would qualify as only a civil infraction; minors who violated the law would merely have to perform court-ordered community service or pay a $60 fine. The second and third offenses, however, would qualify as misdemeanors, while the fourth offense would qualify as a felony.

Under this law, Florida prosecutors thought they had a slam-dunk case when they brought charges against a minor who texted a picture of her own vagina to a classmate because she was "bored." But the state quickly ran into a problem: Florida law doesn't give any court jurisdiction of civil infractions by juveniles—as opposed to criminal infractions—and the sexting statute doesn't grant any court this kind of jurisdiction. Accordingly, no court in the state currently has legal authority to hear a case involving minors sexting. The prosecutors attempting to prosecute the sexting teen got their case thrown out of court, a decision an appeals court later affirmed.

Because no one can be convicted of a first offense, there's no charging teens for subsequent offenses either, obviously. Now that the state knows the statute stinks, however, it probably won't be long until they amend it to legitimize their batshit insane aims.

Florida isn't the only state that thinks criminalizing consensual communication between teens is somehow a worthwhile (and constitutional) activity. In Pennsylvania, it's a crime for a minor to share nude images of anyone ages 12-17, including themselves. In Arizona, it's a misdemeanor for a juvenile to send or receive a nude or sexually-explicit picture. And these are just a few examples. I've been cataloguing a bunch of recent instances of police treating teen sexting as a criminal matter (results coming soon!) across the country. Of course, the teen sexting panic has been building for years now—here's Jacob Sullum writing about teen sexters arrested on child pornography charges in 2009 in Pennsylvania. More instances of such silliness here, here, here, and here

NEXT: Ohio U. Students Can Now Put 'We Get You Off' on a T-Shirt

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  1. How can they make it a crime to receive a picture? People have no control over what is sent to them. How can that law stand up in court? I mean, is there any hard reason why it hasn’t been tossed out? What a boner.

    1. I think it hasn’t been tossed out b/c they haven’t convicted anybody under it yet, but don’t quote me on that.

      1. Also, is it not a crime for them to send an image to an adult?

        Then, if it’s a crime for an adult to have such photos (which it should be in the vast majority of cases) could not a vindictive minor simply snap a photo of themselves and text it to their teacher or other targeted adult, followed by a confession that would then instantly turn said adult into a criminal?

        1. YOU’RE OVER THINKING IT. There’s a problem and there’s a law to fix said problem. What happens next is someone else’s problem.

          1. So, you’re saying there’s only one law to fix this? That’s outrageous! We need at least 1000 more similar laws to fix it. Our law makers best get busy. I’m betting this is not getting done because the party of NO!

            1. Oh ye of little faith! “This, too, shall pass”. Keep yer FAITH in Guv-Mint Almighty, PWEASE, ah BEGs of ye! Then ye shall see! The veils will be lifted!
              To get us thru for a wee tad here, I am going to lead us all now in prayer and praise?

              Scienfoology Song? GAWD = Government Almighty’s Wrath Delivers

              Government loves me, This I know,
              For the Government tells me so,
              Little ones to GAWD belong,
              We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
              Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
              Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
              Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
              My Nannies tell me so!

              GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
              Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
              Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
              And gives me all that I might need!
              Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
              Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
              Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
              My Nannies tell me so!

              DEA, CIA, KGB,
              Our protectors, they will be,
              FBI, TSA, and FDA,
              With us, astride us, in every way!
              Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
              Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
              Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
              My Nannies tell me so!

        2. And all for the low low price of $60!

        3. They didn’t need this law to be able to do that before. Possession of child-porn is a strict liability crime in pretty much every jurisdiction.

        4. A better strategy might be to text said images to every legislator who voted for this and every cop who tried to prosecute cases.

          1. I think we have a winner.

      2. ENB replied to me!


        Seriously though?

        “stand up in court” “hard reason” “boner”

        And here I thought I was in the company of fellow adolescents.

        *sulks in the corner*

        1. Maine in winter…

        2. *swoon*

          There’s a pill for that.


        3. I figured she was playing along with the “tossed out” crack.

    2. sarcasmic says:”How can they make it a crime to receive a picture? People have no control over what is sent to them.

      Selective Enforcement<

      This is the latest trend in the USSA. Taking intent out of the list of elements of the crime that each element must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction–Like possession of stolen property.

      Common law crimes always had an element of intent which had to be proven. With the modern State hijacking common law courts and replacing them with Statutory Courts, the power to decide right and wrong has largely been removed from the citizenry. Now the State decides whats good & bad for us. And G-d help us if w e disagree.

      Yes, juries decide guilt but they are trained dogs. They are given just enough information to get to the decision the state wants. Its justice theater.

      Selective Enforcement is so much easier for the State. Statutorily make a larger group of people technically guilty and then just enforce against whoever you want.

    3. How can they make it a crime to receive a picture?



      Its even worse for child porn – imagine someone sends you a kiddie-fiddler picture un-requested (even sent to you mistakenly) – you don’t even have to *know* you have it.

      Welp, if the cops find out that’s years of jail for you, no excuses allowed.

      1. Citation? Or at least one example…

        And don’t expect us to believe that’s where you got your kiddie porn pictures…

  2. Why are you laughing?! America needs more child felons!

    1. they already can’t vote or own a gun so what have they got to lose?

    2. I’m laughing because I can’t help it.

  3. Accordingly, no court in the state currently has legal authority to hear a case involving minors sexting. The prosecutors attempting to prosecute the sexting teen got their case thrown out of court, a decision an appeals court later affirmed.

    Just appeal it up to John “Judicial Deference” Roberts, and you’ll be back in business.

    1. Darn your quick fingers, Jordan!


      But the state quickly ran into a problem: Florida law doesn’t give any court jurisdiction of civil infractions by juveniles?as opposed to criminal infractions?and the sexting statute doesn’t grant any court this kind of jurisdiction.

      “Meh. A ‘reasonable mistake of law’.”

    2. Teen sexting is a penaltax!

      1. I think you mean peniletax.

  4. A lot of adults really, really hate the idea that teens are actual, sexual human beings. It’s fucking amazing. For acting like a human and being sexual…jail time!

    1. It really is incredible.

      “Why, I remember when … No, I *don’t* remember.”

    2. I think typing that is a felony in Florida.

      1. Perhaps you’re thinking of “stereotyping”?

        1. I was using 2 hands.

          1. What is the sound of two hands typing?

            1. some people never know.

            2. *clickityclickityclickclick*

              Yes, I have a noisy keyhboard.

              1. Is it one of the old IBM Model M’s?


              2. I have a mechanical keyboard also. Logitech G710+.

      2. The number of things that are felonies in Florida is actually quite shocking.

        I took a tour of the Everglades and the guide on the bus ride in proudly proclaimed: “do you know why you don’t see any graffiti? Because taggers get 5 years in prison!! Ain’t that great?” I was floored.

        1. So is Felony Release of Balloons.

    3. Well they have to, how else are you going to criminalize those pervy scum that find physically mature humans sexually arousing?

      1. Nice.

        Nip it in the tender, throbbing bud.

        1. CREEPY AS FUCK, MAN! C’MON.

    4. I’m sure there’s some sort of religious thing behind it. I wonder how many Boomers think teens didn’t have sex until the 60’s. I don’t have the heart to tell them that not everyone was morally pure back in Bible Times. If they were, then why did Jesus have to get crucified?

  5. Attention kids: if you just meet somewhere discreet, there’s no photographic evidence.

    1. And then, what, are they not supposed to take selfies?

      Every experience must be recorded!

      1. Besides, I know that if teens meet up to show off their intimate parts to each other in a discreet location, they can do more than just look.

  6. Um, I’m not sure why the screwup in the State law would matter, it would still be a violation of Federal Child Porn laws.

    Of course that was probably the real issue. They wanted a law under which they could “slap wrists” for teens who engaged in sexting without having to either charge them with a federal child porn felony or just let them go.

    1. Heh. You said “issue”.

  7. Florida prosecutors thought they had a slam-dunk case when they brought charges against a minor who texted a picture of her own vagina to a classmate because she was “bored.”

    That’s more of reflective of the quality of teaching that occurs in Florida’s schools than anything else.

    1. I read that “bored” as in “drilled”.

    2. I didn’t assume that the incident occurred during school hours.

  8. Does this mean Apple’s new I-dildo won’t have an age restriction?

  9. It takes a special snowflake of a legislator to think it “protects” someone to make them a felon for repeatedly showing someone else their junk, when that other person doesn’t have a problem with it, and it would be legal to do that in person.

    It’s for their own good?

    1. Hey, didn’t you know that sending someone a picture of your snatch was guaranteed to ruin your life?

      Once you send it every person on the planet will see it and all of them will remember every detail of it so well that they will be able to identify you as the slut who sent a picture of her privates 50 years later, even fully clothed.

    2. But, but, but . . . 20 years form now someone could find that picture and then Sally would be retro-actively harmed.

      Do you want kids to have to live in silence with sexual abuse for twenty years?!!

    3. it would be legal to do that in person.

      I tell everyone I have the conversation with that I’m completely okay with teen sexting.

      The ‘Would you prefer they do it in person?’ is usually a slam dunk counter-argument to everyone except Christian Fundies.

    1. She’s been drinking. I approve.

      1. Don’t prosecture her!

        I was wondering if maybe it was a portmanteau of prosecute and prefecture. Maybe over the weekend the country was divided up into estates, with the lords and ladies being state’s attorneys?

        1. I thought it was another name for the inquisition.

    2. You’re just jealous that you didn’t think of it first.

      1. You’re right.

    3. Sounds painful.

      1. That’s why you drink.

  10. I am very confused by this…is it still legal for me to send pictures of my genitals to teens?

    1. If your genitals are adult, then it is adult porn, so it’s OK.

      If a teen sends genital pics to another teen, it is “child porn”, so then the sender is a WITCH, and must be burned! That’s ’cause, as I have learned, teen pubes are heavier than a duck, and so, they SINK!

      “When you are a King, you have to know these kinds of things”.

      Glad I could be of help! Yer welcome!

  11. If any of her friends still has that photo and they turn 18, their lives are completely over.
    Previously in Florida:
    ‘Sexting’ lands teen on sex offender list
    from a 16 year old girl sending pics of herself to her 18 year old boyfriend.

  12. the fourth offense would qualify as a felony

    So if a kid sends 4+ pictures of themselves to another kid, they’re humped and their life is over.

    Do it for the children.

  13. What I still don’t understand about this law is how children can be held responsible as adults for something that is only illegal because they are not adults.

  14. Well this is not only ridiculous, but also redundant. Doesn’t Florida have laws against distributing child pornography? Haven’t teens already gotten into trouble for sexting based on those laws in other states? It’s just like having laws against texting while driving. Most states already have distracted driving laws that allow officers to ticket you for driving recklessly while distracted by anything, be it a cell phone, car radio, adjusting the air conditioner, reading the newspaper, applying makeup (yes, I’ve seen people attempt these things with their vehicle in motion), etc. Therefore no additional laws were necessary once cell phones came along.

    Of course, this is ignoring the fact that it should be up to the parents to their children for sexting, not the government. Seriously, kids, don’t be stupid. Networks get hacked. Texts go across a network. Don’t send pictures you wouldn’t want complete strangers seeing over a network. Nevermind the fact that as soon as you dump or get dumped, you’ll end up with your genitals all over the place.

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  16. So if they took a polaroid and slipped it in another kids locker that would still be okay? Time to invest in film stocks! Just DUMB.

  17. I live in Florida and have proposed a new state motto, “Florida, you can’t make this shit up!”.

  18. The kids should just have sex. It is legally safer.

    1. It’s not like they’ll be allowed to at whatever university they attend.

  19. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.jobs700.com

  20. Kids do stupid things, turning them into crimes is a bad idea. I would prefer that the politicians who come up with these ideas be immediately given double lobotomies.

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