New bill could allow prosecutors to hold more "sexting" minors accountable

BEDFORD Co., Va. (WSET) - A local prosecutor says a proposed bill that charges teens who willfully send illicit images to one another, with a misdemeanor instead of a felony, could allow them to charge more people.

This bill already passed the Virginia Senate.

Commonwealth's Attorney Wes Nance spoke on behalf of the Virginia Association of Commonwealth Attorney's in favor of this bill before the courts subcommittee.

Nance said the juvenile courts system allows for rehabilitation instead of incarceration.

"No prosecutor when an individual is a juvenile necessarily wants to label that person as a sex offender or as a felon," said Nance.

Captain Michael Harmony is part of the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force.

"Everybody is fearful of that stigma that a child is being charged with a felony," said Harmony.

Harmony said Child Pornography is so much more than just pictures, "Those images can hurt somebody so bad, and destroy lives."

Nance said the bill still gives prosecutors the option to press more aggravated charges in the right circumstances. That could include Forced threat or intimidation.

Harmony said he is behind this bill, if it will hold children accountable for their actions.

"If this legislation truly accomplishes kids becoming more accountable for their actions then I'm 100% for it," said Harmony.

Next, the bill goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.

If the senate and house bill are similar, it will head to the Governor's desk for signature.

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