Criminal Law

Sexting teens could be breaking the law

By Joseph Neuberger

Young love causes teens throughout Canada to engage in activities they might not otherwise engage in. Teenagers in Ontario are not different. With cellphones equipped with cameras, standard equipment for those who fall into this age range, it should not be surprising that sexting — sending photos that are nude or semi-nude to each other — is an activity that at least some teens engage in. It is likely that most who engage in the activity are not aware that they could be breaking the law.

There is nothing illegal about adults sending photos of this nature to each other. When the individuals doing it are 17 or younger, the reality is very different. While Canadian teens who are 16 or 17 can have consensual sex, possessing photos of a sexual manner of their peers is considered child pornography.

Specifically, child pornography is considered to be any video or photography in which an individual under the age of 18 is either:

  • Engaged in explicit acts, or
  • The photograph or video is focused on a sexual organ.

As we have written about in previous posts, the penalties that accompany a sex crime conviction can be harsh. Where teens are concerned it is possible that they could be eligible for a youth diversion contract. This approach is appealing to many since it could keep them from having a criminal record.

Parents of teenagers who find they are facing sex crime charges would likely benefit from consulting a criminal defence lawyer to help determine the approach to take to try to secure the best possible outcome.

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