Washington Close to Amending Child Pornography Laws to Address Teen Sexting

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Of particular relevance to our public and private educational institutional clients, Washington State is closer to amending its child-pornography laws to consider the impact that technology and child development have on teens and the prosecution of such cases.

HB 1742 would decriminalize or lower the penalties for certain types of transmission of teen sexual imagery, commonly referred to as “sexting.”  Under the current laws, a teen over 13 but under 18 may be prosecuted for transmitting or being in possession of nude, sexual images of themselves or other same-aged teens.  This means that convictions carry significant and long-term penalties, including compliance with sex offender registration laws.   The new law would completely decriminalize teens possessing sexual images of themselves, and would reduce to a misdemeanor the sharing of nude, sexual images by teens between 13 and 17; it would also require diversion for first offenses.  Offenses involving children under 12 would still be prosecuted as a Class B felony and be considered a sex offense for purposes of sex offender registration.

If you have any questions about the proposed or current law, feel free to reach out to either Karen or Onik’a.

About the Authors

Onik'a Gilliam-Cathcart

Ms. Gilliam-Cathcart’s practice primarily focuses on conducting investigations concerning claims of discrimination and retaliation, and counseling public and private organizations on a wide range of civil matters with an emphasis on employment-based claims. She also regularly trains and presents to employers on civil rights compliance and employment best practices.

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