With the recent news about several nude photos of Shrewsbury High School girls being posted online, there may be questions about the consequences of sexting, especially when minors are involved.
According to a press release by Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless, several jurisdictions have criminally charged people who were involved in this type of behavior.
"'Sexting' may violate the laws of the Commonwealth that were established to keep our children safe. The child pornography laws in Massachusetts are all felonies; they are quite serious, and there are no 'lesser' charges (i.e. misdemeanors) that apply to this conduct," he said.
- It is illegal to entice or encourage any person under the age of 18 to take a nude picture showing body parts that can be considered sexual in nature.
- Sending pictures of a child in a state of nudity (including pictures taken of yourself) is illegal.
- Possession of photographs of a person under the age of 18 in a lewd exhibition or engaging in sexual acts is illegal. This includes possession on a cell phone or a computer.
- Sending a sexually explicit picture to a minor is illegal.
According to Capeless any of these offenses can result in up to 20 years in state prison, fines of up to $50,000 or both.
"In addition to the potential jail sentence and/or fine imposed by a Judge, a conviction for the offenses described above may require registration with the Sex Offender Registration Board for the next 20 years."
Schools can also determine consequences for these types of acts, including restriction of school activities such as sports.
A felony conviction can harm someone who is applying to colleges or trying to seek financial aid.
"It is critical that everyone understand that once a message, image, video or photo is on a cell phone or other digital device, it can be put on the internet for the whole world to access; it cannot be taken back," Capeless said.
The Shrewsbury Police Department says it is still investigating the particular incidents in town. Stay with Patch for more information as it becomes available.