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Published On: Fri, May 5th, 2017

Colorado joins other states making ‘sexting illegal’ ‘sharing nude minor photos’ a crime

A teen-sexting law that has delayed Colorado lawmakers for years appeared to be moving closer to reality after lawmakers in the legislature’s lower house passed it unanimously, sending it to the Senate. The state Senate on Thursday passed the measure, which creates a new misdemeanor crime of juvenile sexting.

The measure passed 65-0 in the House and finally moved ahead after much debate over issues/terms: whether it should be illegal for minors to share illicit photos consensually, having an image on a phone of another minor who is nude is considered felony pornography and many adovcated for  a less-severe penalty for kids doing it.

Students at Canon City High School are at the center of a sexting scandal that officials believe involves hundreds of students at Canon City High School.

“Everyone agreed that that was inappropriate, so we set up a measured response with a series of other offenses,” said Democratic Rep. Pete Lee.

Public domain image/Piotr VaGla Waglowski, http://www.vagla.pl

The negotiations were tricky because there could be a variety of explicit sexts. Both sides agreed that minors exchanging nude photos consensually should face a misdemeanor charges or even just mandatory education to be determined later.

Prsecutors wanted to keep the option of more serious charges in cases where nude image are shared with others against the consent of the depicted juvenile in cases of harassment or bullying

“It really can cause harm to numerous people in numerous ways,” said Republican Rep. Yeulin Willett, who sponsored the bill along with Lee.

The compromise bill makes it a crime to distribute sexually explicit images without the depicted juvenile’s consent. The crime would be a misdemeanor if the person sharing the image is also under 18.

The maximum penalty for the misdemeanor would be two years in jail under Colorado’s “unlawful sexual contact” criminal code. Felony child exploitation is punishable by a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison, plus lifetime sex-offender registration requirements.

The bill also requires schools to have access to some sort of sexting curriculum that schools could use to teach about the topic, though they would not be required to do so.

Dozens of states have amended child-pornography statutes in recent years in response to teen sexting, which psychologists call a common and not necessarily harmful behavior for young people who grow up with smart phones.

Lawmakers last year were unable to agree on how to update child-exploitation laws in response to teen sexting.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, will now get to decide on the bill.

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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