Laws Pertaining to Sexting in the State of Florida

As of October 1, 2011, any minor who is caught sending, Floridapossessing, 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.

Legislative Summary

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.

sobering reality

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

Study: Nearly 30% of teenagers are sexting

WWSB ABC 7 | July 7, 2012

Teens use secret codes in 'sexting'

WKMG Local 8 | April 27, 2012

Man charged with sexting

Clay Today | March 15, 2012

Everglades Teacher Resigns After Sexting With Student

CBS Channel 4 Miami | July 11, 2012

St. Johns County Man Faces Sex Offense Charges

My Community St. Augustine | November 8, 2011

Pines man cuts plea deal in sexting case

Sun Sentinel | November 3, 2011

Stakes are high in Pembroke Pine man's sexting trial

Orlando Sentinel | October 9, 2011

Music Teacher Busted for Sexting Student

NBC Miami | March 23, 2011

New Florida Senate Bill Officially Defines "Sexting"

Browad New Times | March 23, 2011

St. Pete man arrested for sexting 14 year old girl

ABC St. Petersburgh | March 23, 2011

South Florida teacher accused of sexting students.

Sun Sentinel | February 28, 2011

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