Sending an Explicit Cell Phone Message Could Lead to Charges

Sending an Explicit Cell Phone Message Could Lead to Charges

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Sandra Yi Reporting Accidentally sending an explicit message to someone on your cell phone could get you in trouble with the law. One Davis County man is learning that the hard way.

The Davis County Attorney's Office says it is still screening that case, but it has received half a dozen similar cases in the past few months. And with the growing popularity of text and picture messaging, they'll probably see that more often.

It's easy to communicate with cell phones. These days, we can text a message and send pictures and videos. "We're in the technology age. We don't need cameras anymore. We have cameras on our phones," cell phone user Dax Burrell said.

Christyn Costley, another cell phone user, said, "It seems more convenient and fast."

Sending an Explicit Cell Phone Message Could Lead to Charges

The Davis County Attorney's Offices is seeing more and more of those pictures being sent. "We're finding that more and more people are text messaging and attaching photographs and videos to their text message," Deputy Davis County Attorney Steve Major said.

Sometimes those messages contain explicit images meant to be shared among friends or spouses, but there are more and more text message mix-ups. "We're finding that a lot of those wind up getting sent to the wrong person, and that's becoming a problem," Major said.

For instance, the Davis County Attorney's Office is screening a case in which a man sent an explicit video to his friends. He accidentally mis-dialed a stranger's number, sending the video to her phone.

Sending an Explicit Cell Phone Message Could Lead to Charges

If charged, a sender could face serious penalties. "If I'm sending something that is legally pornographic, we don't care if you send it to your buddies, or your friend, or somebody by mistake. It's still distribution of pornography," Major said.

Major says it's different if a minor receives it, regardless of intent and even if the message isn't considered legally pornographic.

In another case, Davis County prosecutors charged a 22-year-old man after he accidentally sent an explicit message, meant for his girlfriend, to an 11-year-old girl. The girlfriend was 16 years old. "Even though it may not have been illegal to send it to the friends, it may have been [illegal] because it wound up in the hands of a minor," Major explained.

Major says the best advice, is simple. "If you've got pictures or something like that, that you don't want the world to see, you shouldn't be sending them on your cell phone," he said.

Dealing harmful material to a minor is a felony. The Davis County Attorney's Office is planning to approach legislators to make it a lesser offense if you inadvertently send something considered harmful to a minor.

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