The New Wave Of Sex Crimes: Common Myths About “Sexting,” Online Chatting, And Child Pornography

Posted by Debra White | Jul 14, 2010 | 0 Comments

In this new age of technology, Los Angeles child pornography defense lawyers, and Los Angeles sex crimes defense lawyers, are having to become more and more creative in their legal strategies as they fight an increasing number cases involving new sex crimes such as sexually explicit online chatting and “sexting.”

Common Myth: if a minor sends a nude photo to another minor it is not a crime — FALSE

For those of you who are over 30, and may be unfamiliar with shows like “To Catch a Predator” or “sexting,” you may be in for a bit of a shock. “Sexting” is when a minor (often a teenage girl) sends a nude, or partially nude, photo of herself, in a text message, to another person (either a minor or adult.) Depending, of course, on the nature of the photo itself, this act can, and will be, considered a serious sex crime. Furthermore, a recent survey from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that 20% of the teens that participated in their survey had engaged in “sexting.” Sexting is legally problematic because it involves images which may qualify as child pornography. Child pornography is illegal in California as well as everywhere in the United States and can be criminally prosecuted either by state or federal law enforcement agencies. So what exactly is child pornography?

What is Child Pornography?

The Federal Definition of child pornography is any visual depiction (which includes photograph(s), film, video, picture(s), computer/computer-generated images) where there is a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. This definition also includes computer-generated visual depictions that do not involve an actual minor but are indistinguishable and/or visual depictions that has been adopted or modified to appear indistinguishable from a real minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. (18 U.S.C. §2256). Therefore, depending on the nature of the image sent in the “sext,” a seemingly harmless, but inappropriate, teenage act may subject a minor to prison time and lifetime sex registration.

Common Myth: sexually-explicit online chatting with a minor is not a crime if you don't know the minor's true age — FALSE

Popular shows like “To Catch a Predator” have made society aware of some of the criminal issues associated with sexually explicit online chatting between a minor and an adult. (In California, an adult is defined as someone older than 18 years old.) A common myth is that sexually explicit chatting with a minor is not a crime if you don't know the minor's true age. This is absolutely false. In California, it is a crime for any person to:

  1. contact or communicate, or attempt to contact or communicate with a minor; and
  2. the person knows, or should reasonably know that the person is a minor; and
  3. the person contacts/communicates with the minor with the intent to commit one of the sex crimes listed under California Penal Code §288.3(a).

These sex crimes mentioned above potentially include sending or receiving a “sext” from the minor or engaging in mutual masturbation.

If you have been accused of, or charged with, a sex offense, then call the skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at White Goldstein for a free, confidential consultation at: (877) 779 WE-WIN or (877) 779-3946.

About the Author

Debra White

Attorney Debra S. White is an aggressive and talented trial attorney based in Los-Angeles, California who has successfully represented clients accused of sex crimes in both state and federal courts since 1999. Ms. White is a fierce advocate who enjoys the many challenging aspects of sex crimes defense, including defending against false accusations, faulty memories, and prosecutorial misconduct.


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White Goldstein

At White Goldstein, we provide our clients, and their loved ones, with nothing less than excellence in criminal defense. Unlike many criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles, we fight for our clients with compassion and emotion as well as intellect and skill because we genuinely care for our clients and their families