May 27, 2011
The Senate sent the bill to the governor Friday that would allow minors who send nude or sexual pictures to each other to receive a misdemeanor instead of a felony offense.
The bill by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, would create the offense of “sexting,” punished through a Class C misdemeanor for first-time violators who are 17. Anyone under 17, would face “conduct in need of supervision” under the Family Code.
Under current law, anyone who sends an explicit image of a minor can face felony charges of possessing or trafficking child pornography.
Watson concurred with House amendments to the bill and it now only lacks the governor’s signature before it becomes law.
Under the bill, those who received explicit pictures unsolicited would not be prosecuted if they deleted the image in a timely manner.
A 2008 report from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy indicates that 22 percent of teenage girls said they have electronically sent or posted online nude or semi-nude images of themselves.