Idaho Senate Approves Rewrite of Sexting Penalties for Juveniles 

click to enlarge KELSEY HAWES
  • Kelsey Hawes

A bill that would rewrite Idaho sexual exploitation laws related to electronic images passed unanimously through the Idaho Senate Monday morning and is heading to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for his signature.

House Bill 555 would save juveniles from having to register as sex offenders or be charged with a felony if they electronically send or receive sexually exploitative material.

"If you're not familiar with sexting, then you don't have a teenager or don't have one of these things," said Sen. Abby Lee (R-Fruitland), holding up her smartphone. "It's important to understand how current Idaho law deals with two juveniles in the case of sexting."

As the statue currently stands, Lee said juveniles—whether they send or receive a sexual image electronically—would be charged as felons and, if convicted, would be required to register as sex offenders.

"Sometimes teenagers are impulsive or don't make good decisions," Lee said. "This legislation would charge a creator or recipient with a misdemeanor rather than a felony and not require any kind of registration. A misdemeanor charge would also allow us to get that teen into a diversion program. If an individual uses an image or video to exploit, coerce someone, that would still be considered a felony."

With that, the Senate voted 35-0 to pass HB 555. The Idaho House also unanimously passed the measure.
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