With our societal addiction to the internet, smartphones, and computers, today’s teens face growing exposure to new forms of harassment and bullying. These can sometimes lead to criminal charges for those engaging in this conduct, and potentially anxiety, depression and, suicidal thoughts for the recipients.

Sexting is the sending, receiving or forwarding of sexually explicit material over electronic devices, including cellphones and computers. Sexually explicit material includes nude or partially nude photos or videos.  Studies have revealed that more than 50% of young adults have sent nude or seminude photos of themselves to others, and more than 70% have received such materials. New Jersey, like many states, criminalizes the sending, possession, sharing or viewing of sexually explicit photos and videos of anyone under the age of 18 under its child pornography laws. That means that a student under 18 who sends a nude photo of themselves to another student under 18 could face criminal prosecution. While there is a diversionary program available for juveniles charged with their first sexting offense, these are serious matters that persist in middle and high schools across the country.

Revenge porn, also referred to as non-consensual pornography, is the distribution of sexually explicit images of an individual without his or her consent and without legitimate purpose. It is an ever-increasing, invasive form of cyber harassment. It usually involves a former sexual partner, who sends nude photos or videos to the victim’s family, friends, or employer in an effort to degrade, embarrass, and harass. In New Jersey, this form of harassment is a third-degree crime, exposing the perpetrator to 3-5 years in state prison.

Cyberbullying is the repeated and intentional harassment of another person over electronic devices. Cyberbullying is rampant among teenagers and has recently resulted in a number of highly publicized suicides by victims. Studies have demonstrated that the adverse impact of cyberbullying can last much longer and cause greater damage than traditional forms of in-person bullying.

These activities are the latest form of domestic violence, stalking, and harassment. They carry serious criminal penalties and require experience and expertise to handle correctly, as they risk incarceration, criminal fines and penalties, and civil restraining orders.

Stahl Criminal Defense Lawyers aggressively defend individuals charged with complex federal and state crimes. Founder Robert G. Stahl is recognized as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the NY/NJ area for his skills, knowledge and success. To contact the firm, call 908.301.9001 for the NJ office and 212.755.3300 for the NYC office, or email Mr. Stahl at rstahl@stahlesq.com.