South Dakota House Committee Passes New “Sexting” Definition on to Full House Vote

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South Dakota lawmakers passed a key legislative hurdle yesterday to redefine “sexting” in their state’s laws: 

A South Dakota lawmaker more narrowly defined “juvenile sexting” on Monday, saying he doesn’t think the illegal activity should fall under the child pornography law.

An amended version of Mitchell Republican Sen. Mike Vehle’s bill passed the House Judiciary Committee on Monday.

In the measure, juvenile sexting includes intentionally creating, producing, possessing and distributing through any computer or digital media a photograph or digitized image of nude minors. The bill makes the act of juvenile sexting punishable by a Class 1 misdemeanor.

One key aspect of the bill clarifies existing law so that a child who receives a sexually explicit picture, but deletes the photo, will not be charged.

Senator Mike Vehle explains his reasons for sponsoring the bill:

“What we have on the books now for existing law is you either give them a slap on the wrists or you charge them with child pornography and they need to register as a sex offender,” Vehle said. “The problem here is that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.”

But, Vehle said, sexting isn’t a light matter because of its long-lasting effects. Once the images are on the Internet, Vehle said, “they spread like wildfire” and can land in the hands of sexual predators.

Image: Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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