Two bills aim to make underage sexting minor offense

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 8, 2018

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that will allow minors convicted of sending indecent images via cellphone to face a less severe penalty and prevent them from having to register as a sex-offender.

The act is called “sexting” and involves sending sexually explicit photos, messages or videos via cellphones, according to House Bill 1467 and  Senate Bill 2803. The two bills aim to allow minors facing charges of sexting to be  sent to the Youth Court, so that if they are convicted they will not be forced to register as a sex offender.

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Mississippi Senator Angela Hill said the cut-off age for the case to be heard in Youth Court is 17.

Mississippi House of Representative for District 108 Stacey Wilkes said she agrees with the premise of the bills.

“This will put them under the jurisdiction of the Youth Court so it doesn’t ruin their life,” Wilkes said.

Hill said that under the current law any juvenile convicted of the offense would have to register as a sex offender.

“This bill provides a cut-off age of 17 years before they are listed in the sex offender category and if they are caught above that age they will fall back into the other category,” Hill said.

Hill said if the bill is passed it will allow teenagers to make mistakes without being listed in the sex offenders category.

The Senate bill was passed on Feb. 6, and will now be considered by the House. The House bill had not been passed by the House at press time.