State lawmakers are considering a bill that would make sexting between teens a misdemeanor instead of a felony. (File Photo)
Minors convicted of sexting wouldn't be labeled as sex offenders under a bill passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
The House unanimously approved HB 2541 by Rep. Terry O'Donnell (R-Catoosa) on Tuesday.
Under current law, teens who exchange sexually explicated messages and photographs can be charged with child pornography and labeled sex offenders.
“Right now, any teen caught sexting faces felony charges that would impact their future of getting into college, obtaining a job or even a residence,” O'Donnel said in a press release. “Condemning a 16-year-old to a life as a convicted felon and a registered sex offender for an electronic misstep between two minors is not the way to teach them a lesson.”
The bill would change the law so that teens who sext with other minors above the age of 13 would be charged with a misdemeanor and fined between $500 and $1,000.
O'Donnell said he authored the bill after hear learned many prosecutors were opting to not charge sexting teens due to the serious nature of child pornography charges and sex offender labels.
“We need to get the message across to teenagers that sexting is wrong without ruining their futures completely,” O'Donnell said.
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