Articles Posted in Sexting

While this may come as a shock to some, about 25% of teenagers admit to “sexting” which is the sharing of messages, videos or images that are sexually explicit, according to a recent study and subsequent report published in JAMA Pediatrics. Given the popularity of social media platforms today, this has become a huge issue for parents and teens alike, given that sexting can result in legal consequences – and many teenagers don’t realize they could be committing a crime, or if they do, don’t think it’s something serious enough to worry about. iStock_000070295557_Large-2-300x200

Snapchat, Burn Note and Omegle are a few of the dozens of apps parents should be aware of, apps often used by teens to converse with people they know, and more frightening, those they don’t. Our society is one in which the majority of teens have a smart phone, and while they’re great when it comes to helping parents keep up with their kids or in case of an emergency, it’s important to realize that teens do things parents are often completely unaware of such as sending intimate photos to a boyfriend/girlfriend, or sharing videos or explicit photos of someone they know at school or even those who are complete strangers.

Many parents aren’t aware of the fact that some apps such as Snapchat allow the user to set a timer so that any nude or sexually explicit photos or videos disappear at a certain time. Teenagers’ interest in sex and nudity is certainly nothing new; in fact, you probably recall your own curiosity when you were a teen. It’s natural, however unfortunately today’s society is far different from that of 20 years ago. Teens who participate in texting or sharing data of a sexually explicit nature could find themselves in legal hot water.

In late September, 23-year-old Paul Joseph Creps was arraigned on two counts of third-degree criminal sexual contact after allegedly using social media sites such as Facebook and text messaging to contact and seduce underage girls. Now a second victim as come forward, and Creps faces two additional third-degree CSC charges related to a 15-year-old Ypsilanti girl.

Police found that Creps’ cell phone had numerous pictures of young girls, some of them unclothed, and that some of the images were taken at a community swimming pool, according to the defendant. Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Geoff Fox believed that Creps had sexual contact with the first alleged victim, an Ypsilanti Township girl who was under the age of 16 at the time. Police believe there are likely other victims who have not come forward, possibly even in other states.

Creps’ preliminary examination was scheduled for Tuesday, October 23rd but was rescheduled for October 30th after the latest alleged victim came forward, resulting in additional charges.

The second girl was located after a detective in the case began analyzing Creps’ cell phone and contacting potential victims through numbers on the phone. So far, Creps faces a total of four charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Additional charges may be forthcoming as detectives continue to investigate, according to news reports.

Investigators believe that Creps would use Facebook and other social media websites to locate underage girls, then “friend” them in order to begin a texting relationship, and ultimately sexual relationships. Fox stated that three computers were found in the course of searching Creps’ Ypsilanti Township residence, and that the computers are being forensically evaluated.

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According to a Macomb County newspaper, a Sterling Heights substitute band teacher has been accused of having sex with one student and exchanging explicit text messages with that student and two other teen girls. Based on the alleged Macomb County sexting scandal Christopher Michael Skebo, 29, who taught band at both Sterling Heights high school and Warren high school has been dismissed from his teaching positions and now faces one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of child sexually abusive activity, two counts of using a computer to commit a crime, and two counts of tampering with evidence.

Michigan law, 750.520d Criminal sexual conduct in the third degree, felony, provides:

(1) A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree if the person engages in sexual penetration with another person and if any of the following circumstances exist:
e) That other person is at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years of age and a student at a public school or nonpublic school, and either of the following applies:
(i) The actor is a teacher [or] substitute teacher …

The main charges stem from the substitute teacher allegedly sending inappropriate texts to the teen.

Because of the serious nature of any Michigan sexual offense, consulting with an experienced Michigan sex crimes defense firm right away is important to begin preparing an aggressive defense.

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After a recent sexting scandal at an Allegan County high school, community leaders are using this opportunity to educate parents and their teens about the serious consequences that may result from sending sexually explicit photos via text message. What may start out as an innocent-seeming exchange between a dating couple may lead to serious sex crime charges with a potentially long-term impact on your future.

If you or your teen is facing sex crime charges as the result of “sexting” it is important to consult with an aggressive Michigan sex crimes defense attorney immediately to begin preparing your best defense.

Here, a sexting scandal at Otsego High School highlighted the need to teach parents and kids about the potentially serious consequences about sexting. According to reports, a teenage girl sent an explicit photo of herself to her boyfriend while they were dating. After they broke up, the ex-boyfriend forwarded the photo to other teens. As a result of the “sexting,” several students at Otsego High were suspended.

Many teens as well as their parents are unaware that under Michigan law teen “sexting” may be considered child pornography, and a teen who forwards a sexually explicit photo may be charged with distribution of child pornography, a felony charge, and required to post his or her name on the Michigan sex crimes registry. Teens who take the photo may also faces charges such as manufacturing child pornography. Those who are simply in receipt of an explicit photo may face charges for possession of child pornography.

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Hillsdale, Michigan news reports that an investigation is underway into teenage sexting at Hillsdale Highschool. Currently, two Hillsdale High female students, as well as a male student from another school are being questioned in connection with the exchanging of “sexually explicit” pictures via text. Sexting may be considered possession of “child pornography” and illegal under Michigan law. According to the report, if sexting charges are filed, the two minor females would be tried as juveniles, and the male who is 17 would be tried as adult.

If you or your teen is accused of sexting, it is important to speak with a Michigan sex crime lawyer at once. Because sexting may be considered a sex crime, significant penalties and consequences exist if convicted. Sexting charges are often filed as possession of child pornography or child sexual abusive material. In fact, the possession of any sexually explicit materials of anyone under the age of 18 whether video, digital or electronic is a serious felony. The taking of such images may be classified as “manufacturing” and when a person hits “send,” the action may be called distribution. As a result when teenagers make an error in judgment, such as a decision to send a provocative photo to a boyfriend or girlfriend via text, that choice can quickly escalate to a charge of child pornography.

Here, the Hillsdale prosecutor notes that she expects sex crime charges to be filed. The minors would likely face lesser penalties aimed at rehabilitation, such as fines, community serves and counseling. However the 17-year-old could face felony sex crimes charges, with a potential penalty of 20 years in prison.

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The recent break up of an international escort service in Detroit raises questions regarding the legality of prostitution. The Detroit News reports that a husband and wife team ran an internet-based sex empire that dispersed prostitutes to hotels and beachfront villas around the world, including Detroit.

Several editorials regarding prostitution, including one from posed the question, what’s wrong with prostitution when it involves two consenting adults exchanging sex for cash? Here, the situation did not involve young girls or abuse. Rather, the women in the escort business were allowed to keep a large percentage of the profits. The editorial noted that this is a victimless crime and if the company had been allowed to operate in the light of day, Michigan would be able to recoup taxes on this business.

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In the wake of the recent tragedy resulting from a teenage sexual encounter in Huron Township, legal experts are saying that Michigan’s criminal sexual conduct laws should be reconsidered. Using felony offenses to punish an older teenage boy against a younger teenage girl (and vice versa) makes bad public policy.

The Huron Township case involves sex between a 14-year-old girl and an 18-year-old boy. Initially, the girl indicated it was consensual, then recanted and said she had been raped. By law, however, 14 year-old is not able to “consent” despite his or her willing participation in a sexual encounter. After receiving intense ridicule at school, the girl committed suicide.

This case has brought the issue of teen sex and Michigan criminal sexual conduct laws to the forefront. The reality is that teens live in a highly sexually society, with significant numbers of teens engaged in sexual relations and sexting. Treating these behaviors as felonies, with the result mandatory registration on the Michigan sex crimes registry, is unjust and disproportionate to the act involved.

A recent article in the Detroit Free Press labeled Michigan’s’ all-or-nothing legal scheme is “lunacy” – with the boundaries between “perpetrator” and “victim” based on calendar age arbitrary, noting “Some 14-year-old girls are sexually savvy, others are shockingly naïve. Some 18-year-old boys are predatory; and some lack the maturity, or at least the superficial sophistication, of the younger women competing for their attention.”

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As Michigan teenagers prepare to go back to school, parents, school administrators, and even some local officials are putting out the message about the dangers of sexting and the possibility of racy photos being passed around from student to student. Further, across the country, several states are considering enacting laws prohibiting sexting between minors. Despite the real dangers of teenage sexting and the possibility of photos reaching unintended sources, criminalizing this behavior is unnecessary. While advocates of sexting laws argue that making teenage sexting illegal is necessary to protect children from exploitation, opponents disagree, arguing that criminalization violates freedom of expression and privacy rights.

The director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, one state considering criminalization explains, “So in the scenario where a teenage couple is sharing pictures with each other, and they involve only nudity, not sex acts, they can be charged. Teaching kids about their sexuality is the job that belong to parents and educators, not prosecutors.”

Much of the debate arose out of Miller v. Skulniak, a 3rd Circuit barring prosecutors from filing charges against a Pennsylvania teen.

In Michigan, sexting remains a felony, stemming from child pornography laws. Thus, a teenager who sends photos of himself or herself to a girlfriend or boyfriend may be charged with distribution of child pornography, a charge with significant lifelong consequences.

Such harsh consequences are disproportionate to an act that is often innocent and commonplace between teens.

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According to the Herald-Palladium, Lake Michigan College students who are on the sex offender registry now must be individually reviewed before being allowed to continue taking classes.

Lake Michigan College, a community college educating students throughout Michigan, including Benton Harbor, South Haven, Bertrand Crossing and Niles, adopted a policy in February barring those convicted of a sex crime against a child from attending the college. School officials extended the policy this week to include all sex offenders and convicted felons, providing that any prospective or enrolled student who is on the sex offender registry will be barred from admission. If they object, potential students may have a hearing before a panel of school officials, with the opportunity to provide documentation and an explanation of their circumstance in order to gain admittance.

Unfortunately this policy adds another hurdle and a significant deterrent to individuals seeking a fresh start through education. Many of those listed on the sex offender registry have been required to do so for non-violent crimes such as sexting and consensual sex. Having to go in front of a board to defend these actions in order to gain admittance to school will likely preclude these students from applying in the first place, thereby denying many a second chance.

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Just two months after the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals barred prosecutors from bringing charges against teenagers for sexting, a federal judge has issued a permanent injunction barring prosecutors from filing charges against the girls in connection with this case.

In Michigan, as in Pennsylvania where this case occurred, it’s a felony to produce, possess or distribute photos of a minor.

As a result, when a teenage girl/boy sends a partially nude photo to a boyfriend/girlfriend, overzealous prosecutors have been quick to label such activity as “distribution of child pornography,” a charge with significant penalties and consequences.

The three girls in the Pennsylvania case were scantily clad in photos that were circulated by cell phones. Their pictures were discovered as part of a larger investigation into teenage sexting. Studies show that at least 15 percent of teens engage in sexting. With the proliferation of cell phones, these numbers may be much larger. As a result, states around the country have begun looking at sexting and evaluating what the proper legal consequences should be.

In fact, the Illinois’ legislature just passed a new bill lessening the penalty for sexting between minors to mandatory counseling and community service.

In Michigan, however, sexting between teens remains a felony. If convicted you could face serious penalties, including jail time and having to place your name on the sex crimes registry. Unless and until Michigan amends its child pornography laws, Michigan teens caught with nude photos of other teens may be still be charged as sex offenders.

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