Kansas City Attorney Chris Angles Explains Teen Sexting and the Law

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Parents of teens in the Kansas City metro area need to understand that in Missouri, sexting can result in felony charges, including exploitation of a child and creating, possession and distribution of child pornography.

Parents of teens in the Kansas City metro area need to understand that in Missouri, sexting can result in felony charges, including exploitation of a child and creating, possession and distribution of child pornography.

Sexting is a variation on texting in which erotic images or messages are sent via cell phone. While teens may think sexting is all in fun, such messages could place them in violation of child pornorgraphy laws.

Sexting made headlines earlier this year when a prosecutor threatened to charge three teenage girls with child pornography when they took photos of themselves in their bras and some of those images ended up on their classmates' cell phones.

"It's important for parents to become aware of sexting and the potential legal ramifications," said Kansas City attorney Christopher Angles of the Angles Law Firm (http://www.angleslaw.com/statecourtcriminal/sexcrimes.asp). "Ignorance is not a defense, and while parents may not think this affects them, the reality is that research shows that 1 in 5 teens are in fact engaged in this activity."

It's a nationwide phenomenon. Teenage boys and girls are using the built-in cameras in their cell phones to take nude and semi-nude shots of themselves and sending them to boyfriends, friends or classmates.

"Your best course of action is prevention," Angles said. "As parents you need to take charge and understand how your children are using technology - from cell phones to the Internet. It's your responsibility to teach them how to use it safely and to monitor their online and cell phone activity. Failure to do so could have dire legal consequences."

The legal system is still trying to determine how to deal with the relatively new sexting phenomena. Some define sexting as pornography, while others view it as high-tech flirting.

"Missouri already has a law against texting while driving for motorists under the age of 21," Angles said. "Now sexting is a legal concern as well. Just because your teens aren't using their cell phones often doesn't mean they aren't sexting. Parents need to get involved."

Angles says sexting raises a number of legal questions and advises parents to consult with an attorney to understand the legal options when a teenager faces legal trouble related to sexting.

"Parents need to understand what it would mean if their teen's name ends up on a sex offender registry, which is one possible consequence of sexting," Angles said. "They also need to know how to legally protect their teen if someone else has a nude photo of their teen. Parents should also check to see if the school has a policy regarding camera phones in school bathrooms and locker rooms. That could be key to protecting the children, too. There are a lot of legal issues to consider when it comes to sexting."

About the Angles Law Firm
Criminal lawyer Christopher Angles is a criminal defense attorney serving clients in Kansas and Missouri. Angles vigorously defends those accused of serious offenses including homicides, drug offenses, robberies, sex charges and other serious crimes at all stages in the federal, state, juvenile and municipal courts. For more information, visit angleslaw.com.

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