Teenagers all over the world make questionable decisions on a daily basis. But most of those decisions don’t land them with a felony conviction.
Yesterday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 178-20 to change the current sexting law. If caught sending explicitly sexual photos via their cell phones, teenagers would be charged with a second degree misdemeanor instead of a felony.
Sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove, R-New York, the legislation applies to nude videos and photographs, with photographs being the most closely monitored.
“My legislation will send the message to young people that sexting is not only inappropriate behavior, but it is also illegal,” Grove told Politics PA. “Having said that, I do not want to see the potential of our youth stunted by a single thoughtless mistake, which is why I believe the current felony charge is too harsh.”
Many states are currently struggling with the issue of how to punish teens for sexting, and many lawmakers agree that a felony charge goes too far.
Instead of facing a felony charge and a spot on the list of registered sex offenders, teens breaking the new law would have to perform community service and pay fines. Adults who view or send explicit images of a minor would still face child pornography charges.
The bill will now go to the Pennsylvania Senate, which may not address the issue since it did not take action on similar legislation last year.