A bill that would decriminalize teen sexting passed the Washington state House on Monday with a 57-39 vote.
Washington's current child pornography laws allow minors to be charged with a felony for exchanging nude photographs with one another, potentially placing them on the sex offender registry for the rest of their lives. The law doesn't distinguish between teens sharing photos with each other and adults distributing child pornography.
House Bill 1742 would lighten penalties for minors and create a new category of offense. The new offense is committed when a minor knowingly distributes material depicting another minor in an act of sexually explicit conduct, and the conduct is categorized as either a simple or gross misdemeanor, based on the type of conduct.
The offense would not be considered a sex offense for purposes of sex offender registration.
Minors could still face felony charges if the photos were used for crimes such as harassment or extortion.
The bill is scheduled for a first reading in the Senate on Wednesday before the Law and Justice committee.
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