SEX CRIMES – ESSEX COUNTY – SEXTING & CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

A Newark teen was charged with counts including child pornography after passing along sexual images via text message of a female student.  A new bill before the New Jersey legislature may prevent such charges against teenagers in the future.
Charges of child pornography are serious and carry substantial prison sentences that range from 18 months to 20 years depending on the degree of the crime charged.  In addition to the above penalties, a guilty individual must pay heavy fines and also register with the Megan’s Law sex offender registry.
Under current New Jersey law, juveniles who send explicit sexual pictures via text message, often dubbed “sexting,” can be charged with child pornography.  Such charges could greatly alter the lives of these individuals, as they may be forced to register as sex offenders in compliance with Megan’s law.  As a result, the New Jersey legislature is contemplating a bill that would allow juvenile courts to order an educational penalty for first-time offenders rather than being charged with such a serious offense.  It may include writing an essay, or attending a responsibility management course.  The measure would impress upon teenagers the consequences of sexting, but wouldn’t be on their record when they apply to college or a job.