As lawmakers in Louisiana try to keep up with technology, new laws are created and older ones are being more strictly enforced. This is especially true when it comes to social media and cell phone use. A simple lapse in judgment could now land you or your child behind bars. So, before you press send you may want to think again.
Detective Stephen Bajat with the Lafayette Police Department says authorities are cracking down on teens when it comes to inappropriate social media and cell phone use.
In Louisiana, if a minor under the age of 17, sends a sexually explicit photo or video of themselves to another minor, it’s against the law. “It’s called sexting, both parties will get charged with a crime. The person who took the image and if we can prove that the person who received it knew that it was coming, they also will be charged with sexting.”
If caught, the minor is referred to the juvenile court system which could include counseling, fines, or community service. But, if a young person forwards these images to a third person they could face jail time.
Kristin Harrison says that’s a bit harsh. “Probably not jail time but definitely something minor.”
The offense remains on their record for life unless it’s expunged. It would show up on background checks when applying for college or employment.
Detective Bajat says, “The decisions that these kids are making whether it be sharing or passing along an image that they think is minor but if it’s of a 14-year-old when you’re 18, well you just distributed child pornography and that’s a felony.”
Harrison says, “This could potentially hurt someone’s future for what they want to do career wise and just hurt they’re actually well being.”
For adults, a new Louisiana law, passed in August 2015 makes it a crime to expose a former partner’s nude or partially nude private pictures and videos.
Cade Wyble says, “If someone were to send a private picture like that then that’s something that should be confidential. You’re completely breaking someone’s trust if you go and put that out there.”
Police say typically if a partner sends nude or partially nude photos to their significant other it is intended to remain private between the two. However, not everyone agrees that a breach of trust should be considered a criminal offense.