CSAO: Judiciary Committee - March 13, 2017 - H.B. No. 6002

TESTIMONY OF THE DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE

IN SUPPORT OF:

H.B. NO. 6002 (COMM) AN ACT CONCERNING "SEXTING" BY A CHILD.

JOINT COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
March 13, 2017

The Division of Criminal Justice supports H.B. No. 6002, An Act Concerning "Sexting" by a Child, and respectfully recommends the Committee’s JOINT SUBSTITUTE FAVORABLE Report for this bill.

Under current law, the practice of "sexting" is a misdemeanor for the possessor of child pornography if the possessor of the visual depiction is between 13 and 18 years of age and the person depicted is the sender between the ages of 13 and 16. It is also a misdemeanor for the sender if the sender is between the ages of 13 and 16 and they sent a visual depiction of themselves to a person between 13 and 18 years of age.

There are two problems with the current law. First, younger children are getting involved in this activity and they do not fit into the age limits of the statute. Therefore, if a 12-year-old sends an image to a 13-year-old, both the sender and the recipient face felony child pornography charges since the sender and the subject of the visual depiction is under 13 years of age. H.B. No. 6002 eliminates the minimum age limits in the statute, so younger children would not face felony charges.

Apparently when the law was passed it was not expected that a child under age 13 would be involved in this type of conduct. Unfortunately, experience has proved otherwise, and as the law now stands, a child under age 13 who engages in such activity must be charged with a felony. When charged with a felony, the child may not be eligible for diversion to a juvenile review board and may not be eligible for non-judicial disposition of the matter. Under H.B. No. 6002, both options would be available and appropriate for such children, allowing them to avoid a delinquency record.

The Division’s other concern is that the current statute – and the bill as now drafted – sets out age limits but does not take into consideration the difference in the ages of the sender and the recipient. There is a distinct difference between a 16-year-old sending a sexually explicit image to a 17-year-old and a 17-year-old sending or requesting such a picture to or from a 13-year-old. Accordingly, the Division would respectfully recommend the Committee amend H.B. No. 6002 to add a two-year age difference between the sender and the recipient so that if the activity is between children more than two years apart in age, felony charges would still apply. This distinction becomes even more important if the underlying bill is enacted since it would classify as a misdemeanor all incidents of "sexting" involving children under the age of 16.

We would recommend the following substitute language:

(a)(1) No person who is [thirteen years of age or older but] under eighteen years of age may knowingly possess any visual depiction of child pornography that the subject of such visual depiction knowingly and voluntarily transmitted by means of an electronic communication device to such person and in which the subject of such visual depiction is a person [thirteen years of age or older but] under sixteen years of age and not more than two years older or younger than such person.

(2) No person who is [thirteen years of age or older but] under sixteen years of age may knowingly and voluntarily transmit by means of an electronic communication device a visual depiction of child pornography in which such person is the subject of such visual depiction to another person who is [thirteen years of age or older but] under eighteen years of age and not more than two years older or younger than such person.

In conclusion, the Division respectfully recommends the Committee’s JOINT FAVORABLE SUBSTITUTE REPORT for H.B. No. 6002 amending the bill as outlined above. We thank the Committee for affording this opportunity to provide input on this matter and would be happy to provide any additional information the Committee might require or to answer any questions that you might have.



Content Last Modified on 3/22/2017 9:22:25 AM