Yes, “sexting” has been defined by Florida law and can been found in Florida Statutes section 847.0141. Sexting is when a minor uses an electronic device to transmit a photo or video which depicts nudity and is considered harmful. It is against the law to solicit and to be the recipient if the recipient does not report specifically to the minor’s legal guardian or to a school or law enforcement official within 24 hours.
A first-time offense is a noncriminal violation. The minor will receive 8 hours of community service work or pay a $60 civil penalty. A second-time offense is a first-degree misdemeanor and a subsequent offense is a third-degree felony.
Young adults who may have turned 18, but are still in high school, who engage in the same sort of behavior described above, could be charged with an even more serious sex crime and could possibly be labelled a sex offender the rest of their lives.
Finding a place to live, a job, and other activities of daily live can become nearly impossible. If you fail to register, you can be charged with a new felony crime—failure to register as a sex offender.
Florida does have the “Romeo and Juliet” statute to address concerns about high school age youth being labelled as sexual offenders or sexual predators as a result of participating in a consensual sexual relationship. The stigma and life-long consequences that come with such a classification affect every aspect of life. The registry provides no clear distinction between the young “Romeo and Juliet” sex offenders who had consensual sex and the true offenders who harm children and pose a risk to society. Section 943.04354 creates a mechanism for this group of offenders to file a motion or petition in state court for removal of the registration requirement if the offender meets certain criteria. The law only addresses the registry requirement and does not make the offense legal.
If you have been charged with a sexual offense or need help filing a petition under the “Romeo and Juliet” statute, contact Heather Bryan Law online today for your confidential consultation, or call 863-825-5309.