Friday, March 19, 2010

Court Says Parents Can Block PA "Sexting" Prosecutions

"In the first federal appeals court opinion dealing with 'sexting,' a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled Wednesday that parents could block the prosecution of their children on child pornography charges for appearing in photographs found on some classmates' cellphones. Miller vs. Mitchell (PDF) began in 2008 when school officials in Tunkhannock, Pa., discovered seminude and nude photographs of some female students on other student's phones. George Skumanick Jr., the DA at the time, said the students and their parents could be prosecuted if they did not participate in an after-school 'education program.' The unanimous ruling of the judges, Thomas L. Ambro, Michael A. Chagares and Walter K. Stapleton, criticized the district attorney's reliance on the girls' presence in the photographs as a basis for the potential charges. 'Appearing in a photograph provides no evidence as to whether that person possessed or transmitted the photo,' said the opinion, by Judge Ambro."

Note that they didn't say that arresting people for taking pictures of themselves was insane.  Rather that people being in cell phone pictures wasn't proof they took them.  Either way this is a great quote from the DA:

"Participation in the program is voluntary," the letter said. "Please note, however, charges will be filed against those that do not participate or those that do not successfully complete the program."

I mean I guess in that sense everything is voluntary.  "That guy voluntarily gave me his wallet, I just let him know that if he didn't I'd shoot him."

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