A bill that sought to change consequences for teenage sexting recently failed to gain legal grounding. The Colorado House defeated the bill, which means that consensual sexting between teenagers can still result in minors being charged with sex offenses. As it currently stands, sexting — or sending nude photos through texting or smart phone apps — is still considered a felony for teenagers.
The bill was proposed after an area high school made national news for a so-called sexting scandal. That particular event involved at least a hundred students, many of whom were suspended. In the end, prosecutors did not file criminal charges against any of the teens, but it was a difficult decision to make. Currently, Colorado does not have any type of legal distinction between consensual sexting among teens, and adults who are acting as sexual predators.
Supporters of the bill pointed out that it would reduce the charge for teenage sexting from a felony to a misdemeanor. Lowering the consequences was seen as a good way to still punish teenagers without saddling them with the lifelong impact of a felony. The bill’s opponents did not disagree that the consequences should be lowered; indeed, most who voted against the bill were worried that making it a misdemeanor would actually lead to more charges and more juveniles in the criminal justice system. At least one opponent noted that teen sexting might be irresponsible, but it does not appear to actually be a criminal act.
It is still possible that this bill could eventually become law. Although it was defeated, Colorado lawmakers did agree to the possibility of reconsidering it sometime later on. Until such a time, minors still have the possibility of being saddled with a lifelong criminal record for sex offenses that can derail their future before it even starts. Most defendants are well advised to begin defense preparations as early on as possible in order to achieve the best possible outcome with as minimal an impact as possible,