Kids and young teens are growing up in a much different environment than in previous generations. With cellphones, Internet and social media, they are more connected than ever. But because they are still young and developing effective decision-making skills, they can often fail to understand the true consequences of their interactions online.
Unfortunately, law enforcement and prosecutors can lose sight of this fact. Across the country, authorities are more aggressive than ever when it comes to cracking down on unlawful behaviors online, even when it involves juveniles. In their quest to "send a message" to others, they can cross some serious lines that can call their methods into question. For example, one case in another state recently came to a close, but not until after police tried to use a highly controversial method of identifying their suspect.
The case involved a teenage boy who was accused of sending an illicit picture to his girlfriend, who is also a teenager. Like any average teenager, the two were sending texts back and forth when the boy evidently took it a little too far and sent her a picture of his genitals.
The police took action and the young man was charged with two counts of child pornography. But the most bizarre and out-of-line behavior came when police tried to obtain a warrant to take a picture of the teen's genitals to compare with the images on the girl's phone. Thankfully, the police abandoned their efforts once the case was made public.
In a much more appropriate decision, a judge recently sentenced the young man to one year of probation and stated that the counts could be dismissed if the teen complies with the terms of that probation.
This case highlights the lengths to which authorities may go to secure criminal charges and pursue an aggressive sentence, even when the person who stands accused is a young teenager. In order to avoid facing the harsh criminal justice system alone, parents of young people who may be facing similar charges should consider working with an attorney. A young person should not have to pay for a youthful offense for the rest of his or her life.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Teen Gets Probation In Sexting Case Infamous For Police Seeking Penis Photos," Aug. 3, 2014