Broward News

Florida's Three-Strikes Law for Serial-Sexting Youngsters Takes Effect

Florida's bestiality ban wasn't the only law that went into effect Saturday that's of concern to current and future sex offenders -- the law lessening the penalties for kids caught sexting with other youngsters is also now on the books.

The old law stated that if you're a minor in possession of an explicit photo of another minor, you could still face a felony child pornography charge and become a registered sex offender for the rest of your life.

Now, if you're under 18 and caught with nudie pictures of someone under 18, it's a noncriminal violation -- the first time.

The penalties for the first offense is eight hours of community service or a $60 fine, but it becomes criminal the second time.

A second sexting offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, and if you really can't control yourself and get busted a third time, it's a third-degree felony -- which carries a maximum penalty of a five-year prison sentence.

The law doesn't limit naked pictures sent from cell phones only -- it covers any computer or electronic device that can send data and also includes video coverage.

According to the language of the law, there are a few conditions that don't make kids liable for other kids sexting them: They didn't ask for it, they either told the naked person's parents or told the cops, and they didn't send it to anyone else.

Another caveat to the law is that if the sexting includes the depiction of "sexual conduct" or "sexual excitement," the person can also be prosecuted for stalking, according to the law's text.

Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, a Wellington Democrat who sponsored House Bill 75, makes it clear that the intent of this law is to avoid labeling kids sex offenders.

"When our child pornography laws were written, they failed to take into account advances in technology, such as cell phones," Abruzzo says in a statement. "House Bill 75 modernizes these laws to ensure that children's lives are not ruined due to youthful indiscretion. This reform will let our youth know that such behavior is wrong without labeling them sex offenders for the rest of their lives."

The sexting and bestiality were among 28 total bills from the last legislative session that became law on Saturday.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley