Sexting is defined as sending sexually explicit images or messages via cell phones. Albeit questionable, sexting is legal between consenting adults. However, there are many consequences of sexting that may not be considered by teenagers who sext. Beyond ridicule, punishment by parents or schools, and the eternal lifespan of digital content, there can be harsh legal consequences for sexting teens. These consequences vary from state to state, but include felony convictions for child pornography and the resulting consequence of being required to register as a sex offender. Often, such convictions can affect college acceptances and career choices.
In order to deter the behavior, while mitigating the long lasting consequences of a felony conviction, some states have enacted legislation to reduce the sentence for teenagers found guilty of sexting . Arkansas has not done so. In fact, sexting teens in Arkansas can face Class B felony charges and be considered for sex-offender status. This note discusses the issues raised by two cases where teens were prosecuted by child pornography laws. Next, the note considers Arkansas law and the consequences of prosecution for sexting in Arkansas. Those considerations are then used to create a suggested checklist for the Arkansas legislature when creating special sexting legislation. In conclusion, the note summarizes the need for special sexting legislation and what type of legislation would be most beneficial for Arkansas teens.
Sidney L. Leasure,
Criminal Law—Teenage Sexting in Arkansas: How Special Legislation Addressing Sexting Behavior in Minors Can Salvage Arkansas's Teens' Futures,
35 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 141
Available at: http://lawrepository.ualr.edu/lawreview/vol35/iss1/5