Court Rejects PA DAs Attempt To Charge Teens For Sexting Themselves
from the common-sense-prevails dept
About a year ago a prosecutor in Pennsylvania wanted to bring child porn charges against some teenage girls who had taken some “nude and seminude” photos of themselves with cameraphones and sent them to others. The case was complicated in that after school officials turned over the evidence to the district attorney, the DA’s office told the girls that they could avoid charges if they agreed to a special afterschool “education program.” Some of the girls refused, and the prosecutor tried to charge them. This raised an outcry from many who felt it was ridiculous to charge kids with child pornography for taking photos of themselves. The judges in the case blocked the prosecutor from filing charges, but rather than take the hint, the prosecutor tried again with an appeal.
It looks like that was a dead end too. The appeals court unanimously ruled against the DA and criticized them for their efforts to bring charges against these girls. This case won’t necessarily directly apply to other similar cases — as much of the reasoning had to do with the requirement to take this class and write an essay about why what they did was “wrong,” which was judged to be compelled speech, violating the First Amendment. Furthermore, the fact that the lawsuit was seen as retaliating for not obeying the order to take the class was also problematic. So, it’s likely we’ll still see other cases involving “sexting,” where teenagers are accused of creating child porn of themselves.