Sending sexually explicit photos or videos that involve a juvenile using a cellular device is considered child pornography in Maryland. With smartphones becoming common, a lot of states have passed laws specifically against sexting. However, Maryland doesn’t have a separate legislation for sexting and it is prosecuted under the harsh child pornography laws regardless of the age of the offender. A lot of people charged with this offense are teenagers since sexting is pretty rampant among this age group and they are not aware that it can lead to serious legal consequences as the law in Maryland considers it equivalent to child pornography.
According to the Maryland child pornography statute, production, possession and distribution of sexually explicit material involving a minor is considered a felony. There are no exceptions to the law if the defender is a minor which is why teen sexting can result in the minors getting prosecuted for child pornography.
The statute states that a person cannot solicit or intentionally allow a minor to be the subject of material that can be legally considered as child pornography. Therefore, a teenager asking for sexually explicit pictures from another minor can be held accountable for committing a felony. The law also considers distributing pornographic material involving an individual under the age of 16 a felony and thus the minor sending the image can also get convicted with the child pornography charge. Anyone who possesses photos or videos involving a minor can get charged with this felony. Filming, taking pictures of or in any way contributing to the production of material involving a minor engaging in a sexual activity is convicted under the child pornography law in Maryland.
- Under the Maryland code § 11-208, possession of child pornography is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $2500. A subsequent conviction can lead to a prison sentence of up to ten years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000. Repeated convictions can lead to longer prison sentences and higher fines.
- The code § 11-207 states the production of child pornography can lead to a prison time of as long as ten year and/or a fine of $25,000. A subsequent violation of this code can lead to up to 20 years of prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or both.
- Sexting that involves an adult sending sexually explicit material to a minor is also considered a felony and can result in imprisonment of up to a year and/or a fine of up to $1000 under the Code § 11-203, a subsequent violation of this code can result in up to 3 years of prison time and/or a fine of $3000.
The teenagers convicted with this crime are tested in Maryland’s juvenile justice system. Juvenile justice systems focus more on rehabilitation and therapy than the criminal justice systems for adults. However, a minor convicted of child pornography can still face similar repercussions and end up imprisoned in a juvenile facility.