Colorado teenagers who share images of a sexual nature will be subject to different sanctions today, with the enactment of a new state law that eliminates for them the automatic accusation of sexual exploitation of minors.
Last May, the local legislature passed HB 1302, which defines penalties for cases of so-called “sexting” among adolescents, technically defined as sending minors by electronic means (usually smart phones) of images of naked people .
From today, children who distribute this type of images will no longer face distribution charges of child pornography nor should they register as sexual predators, except in extreme cases such as there being a marked difference in age between the participants of the exchange, among others.
Now there are different categories of sanctions, whose severity will depend on the number of participants involved, the number of images shared, the nature of those images and whether there was consensus or, on the contrary, there was intimidation and threats.
In less severe cases, teens must complete an education program designed by the Colorado School Safety Resource Center (CSSRC) and pay a fine of up to $ 50. The most serious cases will be penalized with a year and a half in jail and fines of up to $ 5,000.
The law was prompted by state congressmen Yeulin Willett and Pete Lee, in response to the request of Colorado prosecutors to count for these types of cases with more punishment options than the sexual exploitation of minors.
“We all agree that (the ‘sexting’) is something inappropriate, so we established an adequate response according to the seriousness of the crime,” said legislator Lee after, the unanimous approval of the law.
The legislative debate began after it was discovered in 2015 that more than one hundred students from Cañon City High School, in the south of the state, exchanged explicit images, and the prosecutor refused to present charges stating that the laws then in force they did not apply to the protagonists of the incident: “Adolescents with bad behaviors”.