Anthony Weiner Conviction Highlights Seriousness of Sexting Crimes
The case of Anthony Weiner’s conviction has grabbed national headlines after he was sentenced to 21 months in prison on September 25th after pleading guilty to transferring obscene material to a minor. The coverage warrants revisiting this issue of “sexting” and when exactly it carries criminal charges.
Weiner was convicted after asking a young girl who he knew to be 15 years old to display sexually explicit images of herself to him. During his sentencing on September 25th, he requested that the court give him probation instead of time in prison, citing his recovery from a sexual addiction-based illness. However, the judge pointed out that justice demands that this type of conduct be prosecuted and punished with time in prison, and also made the statement that the sentencing was arguably necessary “to protect other minors.”
Federal crimes pertain to obscene material that is transferred across state borders because of the federal government’s control over criminal punishments insofar as the act affects commerce. However, states take it upon themselves to provide for felony offenses when it comes to sending obscenity to minors.
In New York, where Weiner pled guilty, for example, sending obscene messages to a minor is a felony offense. Similarly, Florida law defines a “minor” as anyone under the age of 18 and “transmit[ting]” as the act of sending and causing to be delivered any image, information or data. There are several acts that fall under the crime of obscenity, including transmission of material harmful to minors by electronic device, as well as sexting. If what is transmitted is determined to technically be child pornography, the person transmitting the information can be charged with a third degree felony. In addition, even if the material is not technically pornography, simply transmitting material harmful to minors by electronic device–when you know that the recipient is a minor–can get you convicted of a third degree felony.
In states like Florida, it is important to note that minors themselves can also be charged with committing the offense of “sexting” if they knowingly use a computer or similar device (including a phone) to distribute to another minor a picture or video of anyone which depicts nudity or even possesses a photo or video transmitted by another minor which depicts nudity (under particular circumstances and with a few exceptions).
Experienced Criminal Defense Assistance in Florida and Massachusetts
If you or a loved one has been charged with sexting or any other sex crime-based offense, you need a lawyer in your corner who is experienced in criminal defense. The attorneys of The Baez Law Firm, have the skill, resources and experience to defend your rights throughout your case. Contact our firm for a consultation today.