Sexting Your Way To Prison

childtextingWhat images are stored on your child’s cell phone?  It may be more than you think.  It may be a lot “less” than you think. It could impact your child’s life in the worst imaginable way.

Phillip Alpert, found out the hard way.  He got pissed at his  16 year old former girlfriend.  He took out his anger  by e-mailing naked photos  of her  to more than 70 people, including her parents, grandparents and teachers. She had taken the photos voluntarily.  Alpert, then 18, was charged with transmitting child pornography. He plead “nolo contendere” to the charges.  Today Alpert is serving five years of probation for the crime. He is also registered as a sex offender.  He must stay registered until he is 43 years old.  He recently appeared on Fox News and blamed his attorney for not making clear to him what his  plea would mean with regards to being required to register as a sex offender.  What Phillip does not say in the interview that if he tried the case the jury probably would have had no choice but to convict.  This may have resulted in mandatory prison time.

If you do not think this can happen head on down to Georgia and speak with Genarlow Wilson.  In his case teen sex at a party turned into a statutory rape conviction with a sex offender tag and mandatory 10 year prison sentence.  He was 17 and the girl was 15.  His conviction was eventually overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court but not before he spent two years of  the 10 behind bars.  A young life changed forever after what was really nothing more than poor teen judgment.  Genarlow also faced a similar choice. He was offered a much lighter sentence but would have still had to register as a sex offender. A conviction meant a mandatory 10 year sentence.  He chose to try the case.  He lost in the short term but is now free of the sex offender tag and moving on with his life. genarlow-wilson

Alpert is not an isolated case.” Sexting” is becoming the  “mainstream norm”  It has apparently lost all context among teens as to what it really means to “hit send. It has become so ingrained within the “play zone”  between generations Y and Z  that an almost complete disconnect has evolved between act of hitting send  and content being transmitted and stored on the other end when it comes to our cell phones.  In the teen mind  if it is transmitted by cell phone it “isn’t real” and not covered by any definition of moral responsibility or man made law much the same way a dollar bill in Las Vegas loses all context when converted into a gaming chip.  Much the same way two consenting teens hook up for a quickie at a high school house party.  Judgment that is flawed as a pure matter of age becomes even more so with consequences never envisioned until an indictment is handed down and a jury says guilty.

You may cry foul and exclaim that the images were not obscene. You may argue that  this was not the intent of child pornography laws. You may go on Bill O”Reilly and rant that the laws your child is being prosecuted under laws meant to deter pedophiles and perverts  and instead are being used “in loco parentis” when punishment for such indiscretions should be left to the parents.  You may very well be doing all these things as the process takes on a life of its own.  You may be doing these things as  your child is indicted,  convicted and his/her appeal winds its way slowly through the justice system while he serves his mandatory minimum sentence  at the nearest state or federal penitentiary with real perverts and child molesters or at some “gladiator” juvenile facility.

Moral of story?  Have the talk…

©2009 Brian Cuban

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25 Comments For This Post

  1. Baby Says:

    Wow.

  2. gaff Says:

    juries are NEVER required to convict. that's how unjust laws get written off the books, when no one will convict for them. juries don't just judge guilt or innocence of a crime, they judge whether what was done really is a crime at all. something most judges and lawyers conveniently forget to share with jury members.

  3. bcuban Says:

    you are referring to jury nullification. What I am not saying it never happens you see the majority of it on "Law and Order" and not in the real world

  4. Rob Says:

    Man, what a crappy story. Feel bad for that kid. Kids aren't thinking they can go to jail when they are doing this. Laws need to be adjusted for situations like this. Punishment does not fit the crime here.

    What the hell was his lawyer thinking, not even knowing about the sex offender status when pleading? Can you say malpractice…

  5. Marcus Alexander (1 comments.) Says:

    Certainly malpractice, but the kid may be lying about that part of the story. Being a sex offender in Florida clearly means a huge commitment. On don't see why his college kicked him out, opposed to kicking him off campus housing. This kid had a bad lawyer and drew a short straw.
    Also, why select all man. WHHHHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! lol

  6. traxylee Says:

    I do not have sympathy for this kid. Merely the fact he was kicked out of college draws undeserved sympathy. He can go to college online. He is not deprived an education. He sent naked pictures of his girlfriend out in a fit of rage. Underage girls are referred to as "jailbait" for good reason. You have to act according to the law when involved with them in any way. How crazy stupid do you have to be to do that? Is not possession of a picture of a naked underage child Child Pornography? Yes, it is! His punishment is suitable for the offense he committed.

    He should be grateful the parents did not press charges for Statutory rape as well. They obviously have proof of an inappropriate relationship.

    Also, this serves as a warning to other guys to not even take or keep naked pictures of their girlfriends. Just because it is a phone camera and not an expensive camera does not mean it is not a photograph, and all the legal ramifications are entailed therein. Lastly, it serves as a warning to females in two ways. One, do not pose naked. Pictures are forever. Regardless how much you "trust your boyfriend" does not mean he is trustworthy. Two, this male is obviously a creep. He would automatically be undate-able because he is petty and passive-aggressive to send pictures to her grandparents. "Send all" is NEVER an option. And, he cried when he was punished. What should be happening is he should be speaking to teens about the dangers of adult behavior with children, and laws do REALLY apply to you.

    This reminds me… when I was in high school, we had a guest speaker. He graduated a few years before, was immensely popular, and very cute. He came in his wheelchair and talked about the danger of Drinking and Driving. He also brought pictures of his girlfriend and two others who were in the car with him when he was paralyzed. He killed them. His speaking at schools is good coming from bad. He helped teach others, not cried on national tv. He became a man from the situation, unlike this kid who was talking malpractice.

  7. Cindy (1 comments.) Says:

    Why are kids, even adults, even participating in stuff like this. I don't know how many horror stories I've heard of couples breaking up and then explicit photos, even videos shared between the couple, end up surfacing on the internet and causing a ruckus. Best advice, as you point out in your article is to not even take a picture or video in the first place. It always ends up biting you in the behind later.

    Cindy

  8. bob Says:

    While I don't agree that you should NEVER pose nude for your man, the rest of your comment was great. With all the porn out there on the internet, it's nice to walk in on your man fapping to pics of you :)

  9. Dan | Ask Dan & Jenn (1 comments.) Says:

    Hmmm… Sad stuff, makes you wonder.

    It's easy to sit back and shake your head at "how stupid kids can be". But that misses the bigger point, that's not what this is about. Kids (by definition) have always done stupid stuff and they will always continue to do stupid stuff. As do grown-ups for that matter.

    But prosecuting these types of cases (silly kids as sex offenders) is asinine and irresponsible on the part of the adults prosecuting them. This story is about really bad judgment on the part of the supposed adults prosecuting and judging, not the kids being silly kids and not thinking.

    Seriously – prosecuting children as Sex Offenders? Let's recap… these laws were enacted and intended ONLY to Protect Children (or adults) From Real Sexual Predators. Not to prosecute those very children pretending they were the monsters we were trying to protect them from.

    This very idea spits in the faces of those abused children that the laws were created to protect.

    What we need is for people to stand up and say "wait folks, this is really, really dumb. we need to get this B.S. fixed before we put more teens in jail for being teens". Let's call it "engage brain before judging".

    As a society we're certainly "growing up"… women can vote (let's not forget – it's only been 60 years), people of different colors can share water fountains (again, not that long ago), we're not stoning people who have different faiths anymore (well, not in most part of the world). But there's a lot of growing left to do. As a society we're very much still in our "teen years" where we think we know it all… and we don't.

    Have an awesome day!
    Dan (Ask Dan & Jennifer)

  10. bob whacker Says:

    what the fuck are u talking about… im sure he did not know that he was commiting a crime when he sent out those pictures. this is ignorance and is completely amoral.

  11. candicemm (1 comments.) Says:

    Are you serious??!!!! It does not fit the crime!
    -That boy made a mistake. Everyone does!! There are worst people out there. He did not have common sense when sending those pictures. I get that. I understand he should be punished but to be registered? Seriously?? Its not right.
    -Where is the mother of the child?? Do kids now have no morals, values, or self respect? If she didn't want her pictures to b out why take them? I would of spank the girl for such stupidity!
    -The girl has to be also responsible for her actions!!

  12. DVD Movie Club (1 comments.) Says:

    Feel sorry for the kid in that last video at the bottom… there should definitely be some kind of punishment for what he did but nothing like what he's had to go through.

  13. Proud G (1 comments.) Says:

    The kid deserves some kind of punishment. BUT not as a sex offender. Kids today have no concept of hurting people and doing some kind of community service should be part of the plan here. Heck, if this is the case then adultery, which a good deal of our politicians are guilty of, should be classified as a sex offense, thus with the mark of Cain.

  14. danm (1 comments.) Says:

    there’s an old rule that determines appropriate sexual age differences … take half the older person’s age and add 7. So a 30-year-old with a 22-year-old … OK, you’re stretching it, but all fair … 40-year-old with a 27-year-old … 16-year-old with a 15-year-old, 20-year-old with a 17-year-old … all these are good. But if you’re a 50-year-old with, say, a 29-year-old, c’mon, dude, that’s just sick!

    seems like this rule could easily be added to child sex laws in a way that doesn’t exonerate the truly inappropriate (or illegal), yet doesn’t paint a scarlet letter for near-life on kids being kids.

  15. davidh Says:

    danm, your equation is flawed. Most of the examples you gave were people of adult age who aren’t the point of the story. A 30 year old and a 22 year old, a 40 year old with a 27 year old, and even a 50 year old with a 29 year old AREN’T illegal or sick. They are all consenting adults. Stick to the facts in the story and the law, not your idea of what is or isn’t appropriate.

  16. bobfromaccounting Says:

    this is for that guy that says he has no sympathy for this kid. We as a people need to dislodge big brother from out our asses and become a free nation again! this kid should of been spanked by his parents and that is it. what he did embarrassed his GF but should not end him up on the sex offender registry. that registry is for serious rapists and chomos not stupid kids. several people on that registry have been murdered by vigilantes. The police give out your address and work address to the general public and then drunken rednecks can come on by and kill you. this may be ok for the serial child molester but not for this kid! Moving on, the girl who was charged with distribution of child porn by taking a picture of herself and sending it to her BF…WTF are you all retarded! she was the Victim!!! can a murderer be put in jail if the one he killed was himself? if this is what the sheep of this country think is justice then i say we burn this bitch down and start over!

  17. onaneedtoknowbasis Says:

    The law is flawed. To have a sex offender tag with you for pretty much most of your working career is going to do more damage to this kid than anything. The kid does deserve some type of punishment but with the sex offender tag how many good jobs will he be turned down for because of it? So, lets say he can make a decent living and he has a wife and kid and needs to find a way to make money… could this sex offender tag lead him down a path of crime? It certainly could.

    Let's look at the long term ramifications of the consequences and see if what he did really fits the crime. He did not murder someone, he did not rape someone, he sent out a picture that the girl posed for. Couldn't we turn this around and say the girl should have fully understood the consequences when she posed for the picture?

  18. One_Real_Parent Says:

    As I have read over these post, I have come to realize one thing and that is that we have become a very weak. How many parents on here would love to see their daughter posted on a co-workers phone? would you be able to handle that? The law is the law for a reason and I have no sympathy for anyone that post post pics of kids period. This kid knew what he was doing when he sent the nude email out. For that fact alone he has broken the law. This boy sent these pics out because he was mad at her, awww let's give him a pass, slap his wrist, hmmm. naw let him be treated as the adult he thought he was when he pressed send on his phone. You guys kill me. We as parents, number one need to stop being punks and raise our kids and teach them that these things are wrong and you can go to jail behind this mess. Oh wait I have it now since we don't want the kids to be charged, CHARGE THE PARENTS!!!

  19. friend Says:

    I was friends with philip in high school. Honestly a great guy. I'm a girl, and he never tried to harm me. I think it's ridiculous he can't use the internet. It's as if he's fallen off the face of the earth. Really sad, he made this mistake, and isn't able to progress past it because of our warped legal system.

  20. friend Says:

    he can't get a degree online, he's not allowed the internet

  21. Nancy Says:

    I agree with most of the post. I don't think the kid deserves to be registered as a child molester when clearly that is not the case. I have teens male and female and would hope they wouldn't make this same mistake. However if my daughter was stupid enough to send a naked photo to another young stupid teen I don't think she should be surprised by any possible outcome. People on these boards amaze me of what they expect from our teens. And though my memory is not at it's best I can remember some of my teenage years and though I didn't take any new photos (at least I hope not) I did do things that as an adult I wouldn't be proud of or want known. We never had the ease of communication and the technology that exist today and it adds even more temptations for our teens. Why can't we focus on locking up the child molesters , the murderers , the stalkers and try and offer more sympathy to these young kids who for the most part don't even know they have committed a crime. Putting all these kids as sex offenders is just going to confuse me and everyone else. I for one want to know when I look up sex offenders in my neighborhood that it shows me the sick men who have molested young children. I'm not interested in the 18 and 16 year old who were having consensual sex. Wake up! 16 year old's are having sex and it has been going on for more years than you or I have been living. Bravo for the ones who wait, but I think that is a small minority in this day and age. And back to the question if my daughters boyfriend posted a nude photo of her that she was stupid enough to send? What would be the point with kids today they would probably be back together the first one was printed. I think it would be nice to stamp both their foreheads with young and stupid and make them wear it for a month! Now the punishment fits the crime.

  22. Ben (1 comments.) Says:

    The Goergia kids case is a perfect example of why mandatory sentencing is wrong. So sad.

  23. Tiffany Zee (1 comments.) Says:

    woah. this is a warning to all the parents out there.

  24. diego Says:

    well i have to say this is ridiculous a 16yr to be classified as a sex offender is crazy ppl make mistakes we all are imperfect and especially young ones am over 22 and i have made a mistake with accepting a photo from a 17yr old and to be honest i had no idea that it was possible to get yourself on de list as that which I am on an uncertain ground right now but the stupid thing is that in the UK you can have sex when your 16 and yet when you send a picture you can get into jail lol it shows his how this justice system is failing i know i did wrong and am not denying that but i never done anything like this before anyway just thought i would share some thoughts about this knowing the fact that this could also happen to me. I always thought that when you are below 16 than you can get into some trouble but never when your 16 and those who said that he got what he deserved well actually think about it if it was you or your family member how would you feel would you accept the fact that you are classified as a monster this is not fair as there are real monsters out there in the open and yet no one does anything about it so yeah i think its really wrong .

  25. Dan Says:

    i believe kids should not be arrested for sexting. "A young life changed forever after what was really nothing more than poor teen judgment. " and "a mandatory 10 year prison sentence." isn't that a lot of time for just one poor choice?

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