State Senate passes bill, ‘sexting’ teens could avoid felony

Sens. William M. Stanley Jr. (R-Franklin), standing at left, and Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax), right, teamed up on a Virginia bill to give prosecutors the option to charge sexting as a misdemeanor. They are conferring with Sens. Glen H. Sturtevant Jr. (R-Richmond), seated at left, and Mark J. Peake (R-Lynchburg). (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch/AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Senate has passed a bill intended to keep teenagers who willingly share sexually explicit images with one another from being branded felony sex offenders.

The Washington Post reports the bill passed Monday on a bipartisan 35-to-5 vote. It was sponsored by Republican Sen. William M. Stanley Jr. and Democratic Sen. Scott A. Surovell.

Stanley says the bill would give prosecutors the option to charge “sexting” among minors as a misdemeanor. Under current law, the sender and recipient can be charged with dissemination and possession of child pornography, a felony.

Democratic Sen. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen says the bill is well-intentioned but could criminally charge minors for something that parents should handle.

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.

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