Laws Pertaining to Sexting in the State of New Jersey

New Jersey recently passed legislation that allows minors, New Jerseywho engage in sexting, to avoid prosecution under the State of New Jersey’s child pornography laws the first time they get caught. Under the new law, juveniles caught using their cell phones to send sexually explicit images will be required to attend a State sponsored educational program designed to educate the juveniles about the dangers of sending sexually explicit images.

Legislative Summary

Under the new law teenagers who are caught sending sexually explicit images with their cell phones will not be subject to the State’s child pornography laws with respect to their first offense. In general, minors caught sexting would have to attend a state sponsored program where he or she would learn about the potential state and federal legal consequences and penalties associated with sexting, which technically amounts to distribution of child pornography. Teens who are not minors or if it is not a teens first offense will generally not be eligible for the educational program.

Law and Punishment

In general, under the New Jersey Endangering Welfare of Children Statute it is a crime to:

  • Permit a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act if the person knows, has reason to know or intends that the prohibited act may be photographed, filmed, reproduced, or reconstructed in any manner, including on the Internet, or may be part of an exhibition or performance.
  • Photograph or film a child in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act or who uses any device, including a computer, to reproduce or reconstruct the image of a child in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act.
  • Knowingly receive for the purpose of selling or who knowingly sells, provides, transfers, publishes, distributes, circulates, exhibits, advertises, offers or agrees to offer, through any means, including the Internet, any visual image which depicts a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act
  • Knowingly possess or knowingly view any visual image which depicts a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act, including on the Internet.

If convicted of any of the above could result in up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. However, if you are convicted of possession of sexually explicit material you could face up to 18 months in jail and a fine.

If convicted, the offender will need to register as a sex offender.

sobering reality

Up to 10 years in prison.

Up to a $150,000 fine.

Register as a sex offender.

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