February 9, 2007 5:45 AM PST

Police blotter: Teens prosecuted for racy photos

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"Police blotter" is a weekly News.com report on the intersection of technology and the law.

What: Teenagers taking risque photos of themselves are prosecuted for violating child pornography laws.

When: Florida state appeals court rules on January 19.

Outcome: A 2-1 majority upholds conviction on grounds the girl produced a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child.

What happened, according to court documents:
Combine unsupervised teenagers, digital cameras and e-mail, and, given sufficient time, you'll end up with risque photographs on a computer somewhere.

There's a problem with that: Technically, those images constitute child pornography. That's what 16-year-old Amber and 17-year-old Jeremy, her boyfriend, both residents of the Tallahassee, Fla., area, learned firsthand. (Court documents include only their initials, A.H. and J.G.W., so we're using these pseudonyms to make this story a little easier to read.)

On March 25, 2004, Amber and Jeremy took digital photos of themselves naked and engaged in unspecified "sexual behavior." The two sent the photos from a computer at Amber's house to Jeremy's personal e-mail address. Neither teen showed the photographs to anyone else.

Court records don't say exactly what happened next--perhaps the parents wanted to end the relationship and raised the alarm--but somehow Florida police learned about the photos.

Amber and Jeremy were arrested. Each was charged with producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child. Based on the contents of his e-mail account, Jeremy was charged with an extra count of possession of child pornography.

Court records don't say exactly what happened next...but somehow Florida police learned about the photos.

Some more background: Under a 1995 ruling in a case called B.B. v. State, the Florida Supreme Court said that a 16-year-old could not be found delinquent for having sex with another 16-year-old.

"The crux of the state's interest in an adult-minor situation is the prevention of exploitation of the minor by the adult," the majority said at the time. The court ruled that a Florida statute punishing sex between teens was "unconstitutional as applied to this 16-year-old as a basis for a delinquency proceeding."

The same applies to Amber and Jeremy. Even though he is a year older than her, he is still a minor in Florida.

In other words, under Florida law, Amber and Jeremy would be legally permitted to engage in carnal relations, but they're criminals if they document it.

Amber's attorney claimed that the right to privacy protected by the Florida Constitution shielded the teen from prosecution, an argument that a trial judge rejected. Amber pleaded no contest to the charges and was placed on probation, though she reserved her right to appeal her constitutional claim.

By a 2-1 vote, the appeals court didn't buy it. Judge James Wolf, a former prosecutor, wrote the majority opinion.

Wolf speculated that Amber and Jeremy could have ended up selling the photos to child pornographers ("one motive for revealing the photos is profit") or showing the images to their friends. He claimed that Amber had neither the "foresight or maturity" to make a reasonable estimation of the risks on her own. And he said that transferring the images from a digital camera to a PC created innumerable problems: "The two computers (can) be hacked."

Judge Philip Padovano dissented. He wrote that the law "was designed to protect children from abuse by others, but it was used in this case to punish a child for her own mistake. In my view, the application of this criminal statute to the conduct at issue violates the child's right to privacy under Article 1, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution."

Excerpt from Wolf's majority opinion:
As previously stated, the reasonable expectation that the material will ultimately be disseminated is by itself a compelling state interest for preventing the production of this material. In addition, the statute was intended to protect minors like appellant and her co-defendant from their own lack of judgment...

Appellant was simply too young to make an intelligent decision about engaging in sexual conduct and memorializing it. Mere production of these videos or pictures may also result in psychological trauma to the teenagers involved.

Further, if these pictures are ultimately released, future damage may be done to these minors' careers or personal lives. These children are not mature enough to make rational decisions concerning all the possible negative implications of producing these videos.

CONTINUED: Private conduct?…
Page 1 | 2

See more CNET content tagged:
teen, Police Blotter, Florida, child, Judge


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Add your comment
Where the photos admited as evidence?
The story talked a lot about photos, but made mention of a video??

Did they make a video too?
Posted by baswwe (299 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They made video too?
What difference does it make whether they were photos or videos? The only mention I saw of videos was referring to the law concerning photos OR videos, & not the kids taking videos.
Posted by Bob H in NPR (39 comments )
Link Flag
Only in America........
Thinking about the things I did as a kid, I probably would be doing life without chance of parole if I did those today....
Posted by fearless345 (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So would the people arresting you and writing the laws.
Posted by Solaris_User (267 comments )
Link Flag
The death sentance
Thank God for the statute of limitation. I would damn sure be in jail or dead. The 80's in Arkansas. Good those were good times.
Posted by lormahoykyd2007 (8 comments )
Link Flag
Cnet shouldn't run these stories...
...without including the photos.

Just Kidding!!!
Posted by shoffmueller (236 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cnet shouldn't run these stories...
...without including the photos.

Just Kidding!!!
Posted by shoffmueller (236 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My .02
I thought the child pornography laws are supposed to protect children, not send them to jail where they'll end up being someone's ******.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Or maybe therapy
I think the kids got them some problems.
Posted by shoffmueller (236 comments )
Link Flag
Do you have an issue...
Why, are you interested in watching child pornography?

Simply put, don't create evidence. Camera's and video tape are fine for a vacation, but don't use them for any other creative ideas.
Posted by stuxstu (73 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It was a video of themselves. To themselves.

"Camera's and video tape are fine for a vacation, but don't use them for any other creative ideas."

Man, there are so many examples I could give you...
Posted by Tomcat Adam (272 comments )
Link Flag
Yes I have an issue
Your first line is just a throw away so I;ll ignore it. The problem here is judges,d.a. and the parents who manipulate the law for their own reasons. This is clearly not child porn and doesn't meet any test for common sense . In the type of law that is being used here I don;t see how the victim and perp can be the same person. This is more akin to witch dunking (the proof of innocence is you drown.
Posted by mpotter28 (130 comments )
Link Flag
In China
These kids would be arrested, beaten by police, the boy would go to jail for about 20 years, and the girl would probably be sent to jail for about 10 years, if she didn't commit suicide first because her family couldn't stand the shame.

And of course, both families would have to move out of their towns, because they would be publicly ostracized.

Got Rice?
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://blog.stonecamel.com" target="_newWindow">http://blog.stonecamel.com</a>
Posted by Got Rice? (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Knock knock!
Knock knock! Just a couple weeks ago, a policewoman and her husband were charged for engaging in a swinging club/website. According to the news I read, she weren't even shame of being caught.
Posted by Pixelslave (101 comments )
Link Flag
Showing the evidence violated their privacy.
Since both were prosecuted, both were the other's victim. No one
outside the family would have seen the pictures, if it wasn't for the
Posted by davez2006 (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
They didn't share the photos, but the police came in and stole the PC, and admitted the pictures as evidence for the judges to review.

I don't think storing pictures on a PC "that can be hacked" was the problem, the problem was failing to account for police who have absolute power walking in the door and demanding a peek.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Link Flag
That logic is pure BS!
They are prosecuting teeneagers for something they have not done
yet. Under that stupid logic, we should prosecute all people that
own guns. Because guns are designed to kill, and since they own
them, then it is likely that their judment will not be the best on a
moment of stress and they might end killing someone.
Come on!

BTW. I do not have a gun!
Posted by jidrobo (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Don't do that
Please don't give those whack-jobs trying to take my guns any ideas.
Posted by whargoul (52 comments )
Link Flag
You forgot one point.
A very stupid point at that.
The reasoning the judge gives is that they were acting in the best interests of the children, sisnce they weren't "mature" enough.

Essentially, he has the "the very second you turn 18, you become mature" mentality.
Posted by Tomcat Adam (272 comments )
Link Flag
How assinine that one judge made his ruling on the basis that they "could have" sold the pictures. The Thought Police of Orwell's "1984" are here but, they aren't cops, they're idiots wearing black robes.
Posted by TennMom1 (42 comments )
Link Flag
Exactly. what is happening now is the law is more about what might happen rather than what did happen. You might do this, so now you are a criminal. This is scary. The thought police are alive and well. Fear rules our society. Remember Nazi Germany... our reality now. What are you thinking? Ve have vays Think this way or go to jail...
Posted by georgespindler (2 comments )
Link Flag
This whole story...
is just plain retarded. The same as all the other stupid judicial judgements made on teenage matters and their need to be human. I just literally can not see how anyone can be prosecuted for doing anything to themselves. For ruining the lives of these two people the entire prosecution side should be sentenced to jail time along with the judge for allowing it all to happen.

I wish people would use common sense and get off their fake morality ride.
Posted by lonewolfoolt (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Try this:
You said "I just literally can not see how anyone can be prosecuted for doing anything to themselves"

In the UK, suicide is illegal. Attempted suicide isn't.

I agree with you. I've already forwarded a link to this story to several people to give them a friday-afternoon chuckle!
Posted by djcaseley (85 comments )
Link Flag
The law was meant to protect minors. How does this prosecution
protect minors?
Posted by billmosby (536 comments )
Link Flag
Prosecutorial misconduct
Let's get some facts straight. Two kids, who could be married -
and tried as adults if they had committed murder - are going to
be branded sex offenders for the rest of their lives for getting

What they did was wrong. Yes. They did not hurt anyone.
Prosecutors are given leeway to ignore this kind of crime, or to
at least plead it down to some thing more resonable.

What they have done is pretty much guaranteed that if this goes
through to its logical conclusion, they have created two more
criminals they will have to jail some day.

While the 15 year old girl who was a porn star (and just
possessing those movies will land anyone in jail) is not a
television star in Holllywood.

Life is full of hypocrisy, self-righteous nonsense and Florida
once again proves they don't have the judgement to be
considered adults themselves.
Posted by ewelch (767 comments )
Reply Link Flag
American Justice System...Joke
Just shows you the stupidity of the American justice system. They should get a slap on the wrist and be forced to see a psychologist or maybe a sex Anonymous group but to give them a record, especially giving the guy an extra count is ridiculous. the law should make sense with the intent for malicious behavior and should not persecute for some kids thinking they are making love and having fun... are we going back to puritan times.. **** we all would have to wait till were 18 to have sex... anyway my 2 cents..
Posted by garlepp (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Kids are stupid and naive.
That's why we don't let them own guns.

Digital cameras are for capture digital images.
Computers are for storing digital content.
Internet is for transmitting digital content.

BTW. I don't own a gun either.
PS. Charge smokers for suicide?
PPS. Charge everyone for doing a potential something.
LETS take away Liberty.
Posted by ColdMast (186 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ruined Future?
The kids' future is ruined more by them having a criminal record than by some pictures of them as kids on the internet, seeing as the people hiring in a firm are less likely to be looking for child pornography of their applicants than for criminal records. Similarly they will have to put this in applications for anything they want in their future, from college applications to job applications.
Posted by Iron_Newt (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Juvenile Records
Unfortunately, this is a juvenile offense and as such the record of it will be sealed when they reach 18. No potential employer would be able to see it, except if the pair want a professional license later on such as to be a doctor or lawyer. I don't think these kids are professional material. General employers and colleges don't have access to sealed criminal records. As hiring is partially my responsibility this is something I would like to know about.

The last thing I want is to hire some 20-year old who just three years ago had a "photo" thing.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
I read this in disbelief. Showing the pictures invaded their privacy and the whole thing has probably left them emotionally scarred.
It's typical of the law, instead of protecting them it has caused more harm and left them both with criminal records that will affect the rest of their lives.

Have the police nothing better to do? are the real criminals just too hard to catch?
Posted by dolobo79 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Real criminals are too dangerous to catch
The police would rather prosecute teens for having consesual sex with each other or adults. They would rather bust some old geezer for whacking to anime.

The police would rather be nanny than go catch criminals because they are all physical cowards.

Just my 2ยข worth.

Probably time I reported to Miniluv so I can be re-programmed to love Big Brother.
Posted by Too Old For IT (351 comments )
Link Flag
Job interview..
Interviewer: Says here you are guilty of distributing child porn.

Kid: ..But it was of my...

Interviewer: I'm sorry, Wal-Mart does not have any positions open for people like you.
Posted by Solaris_User (267 comments )
Reply Link Flag
new bill to violate privacy and support this decision
Cnet is running a story on how a new bill will support this type of decision.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Senator+to+propose+surveillance+of+illegal+images/2100-1028_3-6156976.html?tag=nefd.pulse" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Senator+to+propose+surveillance+of+illegal+images/2100-1028_3-6156976.html?tag=nefd.pulse</a>

In the end, the bill would introduce a flesh detector that would require someone, somewhere to view these photos, even if in a private email and sent between adults. By default the photo shared here would be viewed, possibly by several government officials and considered for evidence.

The future sounds a bit scary.
Posted by ShareLife (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who is watchers?
I wonder what kind of people will do that viewing...
Posted by alegr (1590 comments )
Link Flag
So to protect them from themselves
and the life ruining effects that some imagined release of these pictures could do. So they're going to ruin their lives in advanced with child porn charges, something several orders of magnitude more damaging than the release of the photos. People have committed suicide from just being charged, cause whether convicted or acquitted it pretty destroys ones prospects at normal life.

I've lost a lot of respect for our system of "justice".
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: So to protect them from themselves
I agree with your comment. Unfortunately some in this country have become so obsessed with "protecting the children" that they've overlooked the fact that sometimes kids will be kids and at those times foregiveness is important.

These kids have it pretty bad but it sounds like they are only getting probation. That's not near as bad as that poor young man in Georgia HS football player who is doing 10 years that ESPN featured a couple weeks ago.
Had they had relations in the more tradional definition it would have been legal but because it involved oral he's now doing time under a law that the prosecutor, judge and jury all say was written with the purpose of protecting minors from adults.
Posted by pctec100 (105 comments )
Link Flag
That comment assumes....
They even GET an interview. Too many recruiters now see "Criminal History" and automatically dump the application, no questions asked. Most of the time, they won't even gat the chance to explain it.
Posted by bettencourtt (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Moving out of America
Isn't it inevitable that a huge number of teens will do silly things like this?

Do you really want to gamble your children's freedom, ability to get a job, to move around the country without reporting where they are b/c they're convicted child pornographers , to hold office, to vote, to not go to jail for life under three strikes laws etc. etc. on the hope they won't do something as innocent as this or something else equally innocent that unbalanced judges and careerist prosecutors can make political hay with? Doesn't our country face real problems, or have all those been taken care of while I slept last night? This is pure insanity.

Think it won't happen ot your kids? I don't. I can't be sure of that at all. I am nto willing to contemplate my kids spending their lives as convicted kiddie-pornographers or child molestors. As soon as possible, I am leaving America with my family. If anyone knows a good country to be an ex-pat in, please give details. Wife, 3 kids ages 2-6, about 40 grand in the bank, career programmers both of us.

Thanks in advance.

To tell the truth, this just looks like an attempt to produce universal guilt within the population.
Posted by rite_edge (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Over-Felonization of America
Make everyone a Felon, make sure they have a record.

Then Big Brother can keep track of everyone easier.
Posted by Too Old For IT (351 comments )
Link Flag
Country worth living in
try australia - thats where i'm from
we have some weried laws too but in general a prety awesome country, and its ALOT cheeper to live here then america - i still cant get over how expensive rent is over there! oh and there is an awesome education system here - AND everyone who wants to go to university can, it dosnt depend on how much money you have (meaning you dont have ot pay upfront) as long as your kids get australian citisinship they can get HECS where you pay your uni fees after you compelte univirsity (its taken as a % out of your wages once you begin earning $X a very small %)

lol oh, and the gold coast kicks ass. best part of aus :P
Posted by reneedenham (1 comment )
Link Flag
Good time to move...
I'm thinking Canada would be nice, the people certainly are very friendly. But there is one alternative- take a look at Alaska, they're like a whole different country. They don't even care what goes on in the lower 48 as long as it doesn't find its way up there. Maybe they'll secede from the Union. And it'll be a good place to live when the Global Warming escalation puts the coastal cities under water and previously nice places to live have summers in 140 degree heat. That will make the climate on the Kenai Peninsula a nice pleasant 85 to 90 degrees year around. And you can still buy land cheap up there, but not for long.... as soon as Californians finally realize LA could be (or will be the latest research shows, thanks George!) underwater in about 10 years, they'll sell everything and load up the kids and the dog and move to Fairbanks or Nome. And we'll be waiting with high priced property to sell them.Or not.
Posted by fabled1 (6 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Moving out of America
If I were you, I'd move to Canada or Scandinavia. I have lived in both places, and I must say America is out of control in many ways.
Posted by pmyhre (1 comment )
Link Flag
Re: Moving out of America
My husband and I are planning a move to Costa Rica. We love it there and there are many ex-pats there. You are not alone in feeling this way about this country. When I was younger, heck, even 10 years ago, I would never have imagined feeling like this about the US. You have to be careful though. Honestly, Americans are despised in so many countries now. We found Costa Rica so friendly and beautiful.
Good luck!

Pam W.
Posted by PamJW01 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Welcome to 1984
"Court records don't say exactly what happened next--perhaps the parents wanted to end the relationship and raised the alarm--but somehow Florida police learned about the photos."

Posted by setheck (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Stupid? Yes. Felons? No.
Too bad there isn't some general misdemeanor charge for being a ******* that can be expunged once you reach 18.
Posted by inouyde (103 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who should be charged with the dumbass violation?
I agree but I also think there are alot of adults involved in this debacle that maybe should be slapped with a ******* charge that can't be expunged because they have no excuse- including (and most of all) the DA, the various judges and police officers and the parents. The more I read about this case, the more pissed off I get at what a bunch of idiots are in occupations that give them power and responsibility. You think someone along the way would have figured out they were a ******* and booted them right out of the judicial system. Kind of fits in with this Bush administration, though. Business as usual...
Posted by fabled1 (6 comments )
Link Flag
So Let Me Get This Straight...
This conviction was upheld solely for a crime that COULD HAVE BEEN COMMITTED? Doesn't this sound just a little like guilty unless proven innocent?

Don't get me wrong here, I'm all for preserving the innocence of our kids, but do we not also have a constitutional obligation to not hold someone felon unless we can demonstrate that they ACTUALLY DID DO something felonious?

Sounds to me like a sad state of affair where people are fishing for ways to put other people away just because they don't like them...
Posted by phantomsoul (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The system is the abuser of children in this case
these people can't step back and look at what they are doing. the whole premise of that law is to protect minors. By persecuting minors and bringing public attention to what they did they are no better then the people that law was designed to protect minors from...
Posted by macsux (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The D.A. should be shot in the face for crimes against humanity!!!!
Posted by anarchyreigns (299 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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