As everyone knows, the teenage years are not easy what with raging hormones and immature judgment. So you were dismayed, but not completely surprised, when your son reacted to a breakup with his girlfriend by texting her nude photo to his best friends. Now he is charged with a sexting offense. Luckily for him, however, Illinois has just implemented a new, more lenient law as of January 1, 2011 for those under age 17 who commit sexting offenses.

Sexting is the electronic transmission of nudity or obscene photos to another party. Even texting nude pictures of yourself can be a crime. Before the new law, prosecutors were forced to charge young offenders under stricter pornography laws that could have resulted in a lifetime designation as a sex offender. The new law tries to address the problems that arise when the development of technology outpaces the development of the adolescent brain.

Under the new law, any minor under age 17 who knowingly electronically transmits materials depicting nudity or other sexual conduct is subject to a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,500 fine. If you are under 17 and you knowingly request another minor to sext for you, you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. If you post the image on the Internet or a website for at least 24 hours with the intent of injuring another’s reputation or causing emotional distress, the charge stiffens to a Class 4 felony, punishable by imprisonment for 1 to 3 years.

The new law also permits a Judge to order an offender into a diversion program, such as counseling, that would look at the problems, which led to the sexting offense. If a minor commits a second violation, the Court can forbid the defendant the use of any electronic telecommunications device for up to six months other than for emergencies.

If you have questions about sexting or know someone who is facing sexting charges in Illinois, please feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email