Houman Fakhimi

San Bernardino Sexting Charges Mulled Against Youth

San Bernardino sex crime charges are being mulled against a high school student who reportedly forwarded photographs of underage, nude girls on Twitter.

Certainly, our San Bernardino criminal defense lawyers would consider such action, if proven, to be inadvisable. However, authorities, in an effort to appear tough on child pornography, often take it too far.

In this case, it seems the photographs were forwarded by the females in them to the male in question. The girls reportedly attend Rancho Cucamonga High School, while the male is a student at Etiwanda High School. The male then allegedly posted the photographs to Twitter.

If this was indeed the chain of events, not only would the male be facing charges of distribution of obscene matter or child pornography, the girls as well could be facing child pornography charges for sending photgraphs of themselves because they are minors.

California Penal Code 311.3 and 311.11 addresses child pornography definitions and penalties under state law. Typically, such charges are filed as felonies, though they can in some cases be filed as misdemeanors.

Even a misdemenaor charge carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail, while a felony could result in up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Can you imagine a young woman fresh into her career having to explain to a potential employer a felony child pornography conviction stemming from a silly photograph she forwarded to a boy when she was 15? It's absurd, and yet that is the situation many are finding themselves in.

Last year in Los Angeles, several high school sports players were arrested for reportedly selling digital albums with photographs of their nude, juvenile female peers. This case was rare for the fact that the suspects had allegedly attempted to commercialize the images, as opposed to simply forwarding them to others in their peer group.

In the large majority of these cases, it starts with the underage girl photographing nude images of herself and then forwarding it to a male peer. Most of the girls are between the ages of 13 and 15, with some as young as 6th grade. The male peer then forwards that image on and, in some cases, the photographs will appear online.

In 2008, the regional Internet Crimes Against Children task force reported receiving about 500 tipes regarding possible cyber crimes against children. In 2012, that figure had ballooned to baout 3,700 - in large part due to a huge increase in the number of sexting cases.

Those on the task force say juveniles who are arrested are often "very apologetic," and indicate that they did not understand the risk they were taking or the severity of their actions.The instantaneous nature of today's technology makes it all the more dangerous.

That's often the case with juveniles accused of any criminal action, which is why they need strong criminal defense protection. Some parents attempt to take the "tough love" approach in allowing their teen to simply go through the penalty phases without seeking a skilled legal representative. That's a mistake in cases like these, where the charge could have severe consequences on their future for the rest of their life.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are arrested in San Bernardino.

Additional Resources

High school students' tweets could lead to charges, May 9, 2013, By Joseph Serna, The Los Angeles Times.