“As a parent, grandparent and elected representative, I could not in good conscience sit back and watch as children who acted with no malice, and without the awareness or intent to commit a crime, but rather made a dumb decision that countless adults make as well, find themselves charged with a serious crime which could ruin their future,” Perry said.
Under current state law, “sexting” is classified the same as the creation, possession and distribution of child pornography, and can result in a felony charge, and, in some cases, the offense can lead the youth registering as a sex offender.
Under Perry’s bill, a first time youthful offender who did not have the intent to commit a criminal offense could be diverted to an education program and given a chance to have the charge dismissed.
Teenagers arrested for sexting has been a growing–and, civil libertarians, an alarming–trend, as, according to one study, up to 20 percent of teens say they have sent explicit messages online. The issue received considerably more attention in the wake of the recent Anthony Weiner scandal.
Said Perry, “Now that this bill has passed both houses, it is my expectation that the governor will sign it into law, and New York’s children will get the second chance every young person certainly deserves. As we all, both young and old, try and cope with the advantages and disadvantages of the technological explosion which has so enhanced our ability to communicate with anyone, anywhere, at anytime, this law will be a 21st Century solution for dealing for youthful indiscretions resulting in cyber crimes.”
A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he was “reviewing” the matter.