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


You just broke up with your girlfriend from school, and you’re upset. You don’t think she treated you right, so to get even with her, you’ve texted those nude photos you took on your cell phone in better days to ten of your friends.

Or maybe, you think your steady looks fantastic, and you just were showing off. Or you thought if that special someone saw what they were missing, you might get that first date.

If you sent nude pictures via texting, there’s a new name for what you did: Sexting. Maybe sexting made you feel better about that girlfriend or proud of your steady for the moment. But the consequences of sexting, such as a conviction for child pornography, can follow you around for the rest of your life.

Concerned with the rising tide of sexting, prosecutors and school officials are looking to set examples, not without some reason. Some offenders have used sexting to solicit nude photos of young people. In one Ohio case, the sexting victim was harassed and committed suicide. Because of cases like these, the Illinois Attorney General has asked victims of sexting to call its Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

But in the absence of laws tailored to this new technology, prosecutors are relying on the more severe child pornography laws even against defendants, who are themselves high school students. In Illinois, you may have committed a Class 1 felony if you 1) filmed, videotaped or photographed any one that you should have known was under the age of 18 in lewd exhibitions of nudity or 2) knowing the contents of those pictures, you distributed them, i.e. via texting.

If found guilty, you may face a prison term ranging from 15 to 30 years along with fines between $1,000 and $100,000 dollars for each offense. You may also land on the sex offender registry. As a student, you may be expelled. Today, more schools are disciplining students for offenses, even if the activity took place off school grounds. In this case, sexting technology can cause something that took place outside the school to enter the school’s domain.

Even if the victim is over the age of 18, you could still be charged for harassment or for an obscenity offense.

If you think you might be charged because of sexting, contact an attorney immediately. Don’t speak to anyone about your case because those statements could be used against you. Sometimes an attorney can even help prevent charges from being brought. Even if you are charged, your case may not be hopeless. You might reasonably have believed the victim was over the age of 18. You may not have been the one who sent the text. Maybe you forwarded something without knowing the contents. If you have questions about your situation, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email for advice.