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Sending or receiving explicit photos of a child in Virginia is criminal offense and could result child pornography felony charges, even if the parties involved are all minors. Virginia state legislators have made an effort to reduce the potential consequences for minors caught sexting, by making minor sexting a misdemeanor, but none of these bills have been made into law yet. Therefore, any child who sends or receives inappropriate photos may be charged with a juvenile criminal offense.

Virginia police have recently been investigating a sexting scandal, allegedly involving nearly 12 pupils from two schools. The police got word of nude photos of students being distributed at a Falls Church middle school, and later discovered that some explicit images were posted online. There have also been multiple instances of sexting, including nude photos being exchanged between two students who were previously dating. A girl apparently sent the explicit photo she received from her ex-boyfriend to another student via Snapchat, who later posted it on Snapchat for other to see. The photo continued to circulate, along with another photo of a female high school student, after someone took a picture of her when she appeared topless during a live Instagram session.

The investigators have apparently seized phones from five students and have examined them for evidence. No students have been criminally charged yet, but the investigation is still ongoing.

If a child or teen is convicted of child porn charges, they could receive a minimum sentence of five years in prison. However, cases involving juveniles often end in a plea deal where the child will plead guilty to a lesser charge. If your child is facing criminal charges for sexting, it is important to develop to do all that is necessary to defend against such charges, to avoid the harsh penalties that come with them.

Source: The Washington Post, "Sprawling sexting probe ensnares Va. middle school," Justin Jouvenal, May 12, 2018

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