ASSEMBLY, No. 4069

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

213th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 11, 2009

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman PAMELA R. LAMPITT

District 6 (Camden)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Creates diversionary program for juveniles who are criminally charged for “sexting” or posting sexual images.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act creating a diversionary program for certain juveniles and supplementing Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a. As used in this act, “eligible offense” means an offense under N.J.S.2C:24-4 in which:

     (1)   the facts of the case involve the creation, exhibition or distribution without malicious intent of a photograph depicting nudity as defined in that section through the use of an interactive wireless communications device or a computer; and

     (2)   the creator and subject of the photograph are juveniles or were juveniles at the time of its making.

     b.    The Attorney General, in consultation with the Administrative Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, shall develop an educational program for juveniles who have committed an eligible offense as defined under the provisions of subsection a. of this section.  The county prosecutor shall determine whether a juvenile shall be admitted to the program.  A juvenile who successfully completes the program shall have the opportunity to avoid prosecution for the eligible offense.

     c.     Admission to the program shall be limited to juveniles who:

     (1)   have not previously been adjudicated delinquent for or convicted of a criminal offense under Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes or the laws of the United States;

     (2)   were not aware that their actions could constitute and did not have the intent to commit a criminal offense;

     (3)   may be harmed by the imposition of criminal sanctions; and

     (4)   would likely be deterred from engaging in similar conduct in the future by completing the program.

     d.    The educational program shall provide information concerning:

     (1)   the legal consequences of and penalties for sharing sexually suggestive or explicit materials, including applicable federal and State statutes;

     (2)   the non-legal consequences of sharing sexually suggestive or explicit materials including, but not limited to, the effect on relationships, loss of educational and employment opportunities, and being barred or removed from school programs and extracurricular activities;

     (3)   how the unique characteristics of cyberspace and the Internet, including searchibility, replicability, and an infinite audience, can produce long-term and unforeseen consequences for sharing sexually suggestive or explicit materials; and

     (4)   the connection between bullying and cyber-bullying and juveniles sharing sexually suggestive or explicit materials.

     e.     The Attorney General may promulgate guidelines to effectuate the provisions of this act.

 

     2.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month after enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill establishes an educational program that is intended to be an alternative to prosecution for juveniles who are charged with a criminal offense for posting sexually suggestive or sexually explicit photographs, usually on the Internet.  The educational program also would include juveniles who engage in the behavior commonly known as “sexting,” in which sexually suggestive or explicit pictures are transmitted via cell phones.

     The bill requires the Attorney General, in consultation with the Administrative Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, to develop an educational program for juveniles who commit an eligible offense as defined in the bill.  The county prosecutor would determine whether a minor may be admitted into the program.  A juvenile who successfully completes the program would have the opportunity to avoid prosecution.

     Admission to the program would be limited to juveniles who: (1) have not previously been adjudicated delinquent for or convicted of a criminal offense; (2) were not aware that their actions could constitute and did not have the intent to commit a criminal offense; (3) may be harmed by the imposition of criminal sanctions; and (4) would likely would be deterred from engaging in similar conduct in the future by completing the program.

     The educational program is to provide information concerning: the legal consequences of and penalties for sexting or posting sexual pictures online, including the applicable federal and State statutes;  the non-legal consequences of sexting or posting such pictures, including, but not limited to, the effect on relationships, loss of educational and employment opportunities, and being barred or removed from school programs and extracurricular activities; how the unique characteristics of cyberspace and the Internet can produce long-term and unforeseen consequences for sexting and posting such photographs; and the connection between bullying and cyber-bullying and juveniles sexting or posting sexual images.

     The teenage practices of sexting and posting sexual images online are nationwide problems that have perplexed parents, school administrators, and law enforcement officials.  Prosecutors in several states have charged teenagers who have engaged in these behaviors with criminal offenses, including distribution of child pornography.