Laws Pertaining to Sexting in the State of Florida
As of October 1, 2011, any minor who is caught sending, possessing, or creating nude images of a minor can be charged with a non-criminal violation for their first offense and subject to a $60 fine or 8 hours of community service as well as required to attend training or instructional classes on the dangers of sexting. Until October, or for those teens who are not considered minors, under Florida law the creation, distribution or possession of images of a minor engaged in a sexually explicit act may be prosecuted under the State’s child pornography laws and if convicted, may serve up to 15 years in jail and be required to register as a sex offender. It should be noted that the new Florida law only applies to nude images and if a minor distributes, possesses or creates an image of a minor engaged in sexual activity then the new law may not apply to them.
Effective October 1, 2011, a minor who is caught sending, creating or possessing a nude image of a minor will be charged with a non-criminal violation under Florida law. Under the new law a minor will receive either a $60 fine or 8 hours of community service and may also be required to attend educational classes. A second offense will result in a first degree misdemeanor, and a third offense will result in a third degree felony. Any images sent or received within a 24 hour period will be treated as one offense. In addition, a minor who is sent improper images and (i) did not solicit the images, (ii) took reasonable steps to report the images to a parent, guardian, school official or law enforcement officer, and (iii) did not distribute the image, then the minor will not be charged with a sexting offense. Lastly, the new law only applies to minors and teenagers who are 18 and are caught sexting with a minor can still be charged under the State’s child pornography laws, and the law only covers nude images, images of minors engaged in sexual conduct or sexual excitement are not covered and minors can still be charged under the State’s child pornography laws if such images are possessed, distributed or created.
Law and Punishment
In general, under Florida child pornography laws it is a crime to:
- Knowingly use a child in a sexual performance or knowingly promote a sexual performance by a child. If convicted an offender could receive up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possess with the intent to promote any visual image which, in whole or in part, includes any sexual conduct by a child. If caught with 3 or more copies of such material it is presumptive evidence of intent to promote. If convicted an offender could receive up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Knowingly possess a visual image containing any sexual conduct by a child. The possession of each such image is a separate offense. If convicted, an offender could receive up to 5 years in jail and a fine of $5,000 for each offense.
- Knowingly use a computer online service, Internet service, local bulletin board service, or any other device capable of electronic data storage or transmission to:
- Seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, a child to engage in any unlawful sexual conduct; or
- Solicit, lure, or entice, or attempt to solicit, lure, or entice a parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child to consent to the participation of such child in any sexual conduct, commits a felony of the third degree punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a fine of $5,000 for each offense.
- Intentionally commit any sexual act that does not involve actual physical or sexual contact with the victim, and know or have reason to know that the transmission is viewed by a victim in this state who is less than 16 years of age, commits lewd or lascivious exhibition in violation of this subsection.
- An offender 18 years of age or older who commits a lewd or lascivious exhibition using a computer commits a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to 15 years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
- An offender less than 18 years of age who commits a lewd or lascivious exhibition using a computer commits a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to 5 years in jail and up to $5,000 fine.
- Any person who knew or reasonably should have known that he or she was transmitting child pornography, to another person commits a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to 5 years in jail and up to $5,000 fine.
If convicted under the child pornography statute an individual would need to register as a sex offender in Florida.
Separate felony convictions for possession, distribution or creation of child pornography.
Up to 15 years in jail.
Registration as a sex offender.
Latest News Concerning Sexting in Florida
WWSB ABC 7 | July 7, 2012
WDBO.com | June 29, 2012
Orlando Sentinel | June 8, 2012
WKMG Local 8 | April 27, 2012
Clay Today | March 15, 2012
CBS Channel 4 Miami | July 11, 2012
SunSentinel | January 27, 2012
NBC | December 2, 2011
Orlando Sentinel | November 29, 2011
My Community St. Augustine | November 8, 2011
Sun Sentinel | November 3, 2011
UPI | October 21, 2011
Orlando Sentinel | October 9, 2011
Miami New Times | July 20, 2011
Herald-tribune | July 12, 2011
The Examiner | June 24, 2011
St. Petersburg Times | June 21, 2011
Patch.com | June 15, 2011
WFTV Chan 9 | May 17, 2011
The Examiner | May 14, 2011
CBS Miami | May 11, 2011
WPTV NBC 5 | May 9, 2011
St. Petersburg Times | April 13, 2011
WCTV | April 5, 2011
NBC Miami | March 23, 2011
Browad New Times | March 23, 2011
ABC St. Petersburgh | March 23, 2011
NBC Miami | March 18, 2011
Sun Sentinel | February 28, 2011
Naples Daily News | February 16, 2011
ABC Action News Tampa | December 23, 2010
Today Show | December 12, 2009
AOL News | May 21, 2010
CNN | August 7, 2009
The National Ledger | March 9, 2009
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