As reported by Philip Marcelo and Randal Edgar in the July 14, 2011 edition of the Providence Journal, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a new bill involving minors and sexting. The new bill makes sexting a lesser offense for minors and prevents minors from being prosecuted under the state's child pornography statute.
Sexting is defined as is sending sexually explicit photos, images and/or videos electronically. Sexting is only illegal when the sender or the recipient is a minor. Pursuant to Rhode Island General Law 11-9-1.3, child pornography is defined as:
(1) "Child pornography" means any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct where:
(i) The production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
(ii) Such visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
(iii) Such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to display an identifiable minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
It is a violation of this section for any person to:
(1) Knowingly produce any child pornography;
(2) Knowingly mail, transport, deliver or transfer by any means, including by computer, any child pornography;
(3) Knowingly reproduce any child pornography by any means, including the computer; or
(4) Knowingly possess any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, computer disk, computer file or any other material that contains an image of child pornography.
Prior to the change in the law, minors who sent or received sexual explicit images of themselves or other minors would be producing, mailing or possessing images of child pornography. Under the old law, they would be subject to harsh penalties, including:
(1) Whoever violates or attempts or conspires to violate subdivisions (a)(1), (a)(2) or (a)(3) of this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisoned for not more than fifteen (15) years, or both.
(2) Whoever violates or attempts or conspires to violate subdivision (a)(4) of this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisoned not more than five (5) years, or both.
Under the new law, it is still a crime for minors to sext. However, minors charged with sexting will be before the Family Court and the case will be charged as a status offense. Minors will not be required to register as sex offenders.
If you or a family member have been charged with sexting, sextortion, child pornography, first degree sexual assault, second degree sexual assault or third degree sexual assault please allow attorney Robert H. Humphrey's reputation, experience and skill to successfully guide you through the legal process. Contact Robert H. Humphrey, Esq., at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.