Pennsylvania District Attorneys Applaud New Proposal to Change “Sexting” Laws

January 22, 2010

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association today applauded a new “sexting” bill introduced in the state House of Representatives saying the measure makes the right changes to Pennsylvania law regarding the sending of sexually explicit images by minors to minors.

With sexting incidents on the rise, district attorneys throughout Pennsylvania have advocated making appropriate changes to the state’s sexting laws while simultaneously conducting local outreach programs to help educate young people, parents and communities regarding the social dangers and legal consequences of sexting.

“When it comes to sexting, the right legislative changes will ensure that the law catches up with technology and hands down appropriate legal consequences,” said Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association President and Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico, Jr.  “The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association applauds Rep. Seth Grove for introducing this legislation and looks forward to working with legislative leaders, victim advocates and others to ensure that the end result is a law that is clear and applied in a consistent manner.”

House Bill 2189, introduced by York County state Representative Seth Grove (R-Dover), would make the charge for a minor transmitting or distributing a sexting image to another minor considered a misdemeanor of the second degree. Current law makes sexting a felony offense, even for minors.  A sexting conviction could result in a permanent record and registration as a sex offender for a period of 10 years or more.

“It takes seconds to decide to take a photo, take it and send a sexual image over a cell phone, but it could take a lifetime to erase the impact of that image,” said Marsico.  “As people, we understand that there are long-lasting social consequences to sexting that argue against teens doing it in the first place.  As prosecutors, we’d rather not see the legal consequences for minors last so long.”

To help educate young people, parents and communities about the social dangers and legal consequences of sexting, PDAA has developed the public outreach program, “Let’s Talk About Sexting”. The program is available to schools and communities through their local district attorney’s office or by contacting PDAA at pdaa.websitetestlink.us or (717) 238-5416.

“Prosecutors would much rather stop sexting before it reaches the district attorney’s office,” Marsico said.  “The Let’s Talk About Sexting presentation focuses on the many social consequences, in addition to the legal ones, that young people need to consider before they click a picture and hit send.”