State Attorney General Proposing Sexting Law for Minors

by Abby Reed
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND/ODESSA - From Facebook to cell phones, teens are keeping up with technology and each another. However, when innocent flirting turns to sexting, minors could see themselves in big trouble.

"Now we have minors sending sexually explicit material to other minor children, but yet, we don't have anything crafted to punish or rehabilitate that age group," Midland County District Attorney, Theresa Clingman said.

According to Clingman, minors could face serious felony charges and serious felony consequences.

"Which can expose them to anywhere from two years in the penitentiary to up to 20 years in the penitentiary," Clingman said.

Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland says the closest crime to sexting is possession of child porn.

"There is possession of child pornography which is a 3rd degree felony, it carries two years to 20 years in the penitentiary," Bland said.

Attorney General Greg Abbott wants to create an actual law that targets sexting between minors, that wouldn't result in a charge of possession of child porn. Instead, sexting between teens would result in a misdemeanor charge, which could mean probation and restricted cell phone use, but wouldn't require jail time or sex offender registry.

Clingman and Bland agree a sexting law would be something they'd enforce, but they'd like to use it at their discretion.

"We'd like to be able to utilize either law, the one that exists now or the one that's being proposed so that we can make the decision as to what the situation really was and which punishment range would be appropriate," Clingman said.

"The main thing is the prosecutor needs to be able to handle each case on a case by case basis. Depending on the circumstance, I don't think any one particular punishment can fit one particular crime," Bland said.