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For teens in Virginia, the use of smartphones has become a part of daily life that they are unable to function without. That has naturally led to certain behaviors such as sexting that could lead to long-term consequences with the law. Understanding the dangers and negatives of this technology can help juveniles avoid them and know what to do if they are confronted with being accused of juvenile crimes.

Sexting is basically defined as sexually explicit photos or messages that are sent to peers. These images might be sent as a joke or are intended to be private, but they often begin to circulate on a widespread basis. Studies have shown that as many a 19 percent of juveniles admitted to sexting; 9 percent had sent a sexting message; 17 percent received one; 3 percent forwarded one; 60 percent sent these messages to girlfriends and boyfriends; 11 percent sent these messages to people they didn't know; and 14 percent were found out by people other than those to whom the messages were sent, often by adults.

Many might not realize that a sext could result in a felony child pornography charge. If there is an explicit image of a minor in someone's possession, they could face harsh penalties. This is one of the legal issues that can arise from the practice. The law could also be violated if the sexting happened as part of harassing or bullying another person. If a person is considered an adult - age 18 or older - and they have images or solicited images from a juvenile, this too is illegal.

Students will not only face legal consequences, but they could also be suspended from school, have problems at work and have the issue negatively influence an attempt to get into college or into the armed forces. In some instances, sexting involves a misunderstanding or a mistake. Those who are faced with legal problems as a result of having been alleged to being involved in sexting need to understand their rights and craft a strong defense with help from a qualified legal professional.

Source:, "Technology and You," accessed on June 7, 2015

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