NEW SEXTING LAW MAKES PUNISHMENT FIT THE CRIME
House Bill 75 by Rep. Joseph Abruzzo Takes Effect Oct. 1
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A new Florida law dealing with “sexting” that takes effect Saturday will apply a new set of more reasonable penalties to minors convicted of electronically sending inappropriate pictures and videos.
Representative Joseph Abruzzo (D-Wellington) sponsored House Bill 75, which is among 28 bills from the 2011 legislative session that become law on Oct. 1 in Florida.
Currently, a minor who sends an inappropriate picture to another minor can be charged with a felony and forced to register as a sex offender. Additionally, a minor who receives an inappropriate picture from another minor and reports it now could face charges of being in possession of child pornography and have to register as a sexual offender.
Under HB 75, Florida’s laws dealing with sexting among minors will be revised to ensure that the punishment fits the crime. Representative Abruzzo has said that a first offense of this kind for minors should be met with required community service and a fine rather than an automatic felony charge and the threat of being registered as a sex offender.
“When our child pornography laws were written, they failed to take into account advances in technology, such as cell phones,” said Representative Abruzzo. “House Bill 75 modernizes these laws to ensure that children’s lives are not ruined due to youthful indiscretion. This reform will let our youth know that such behavior is wrong without labeling them sex offenders for the rest of their lives.”