It is a pastime among middle school and high school children that has rapidly gained popularity since it become commonplace for teens to have smartphones – they send each other pictures and short videos along with text messages. Many teenagers think it is harmless, or feel pressured, to send each other revealing “selfies.” As a parent in North Dakota, you may worry about the legal ramifications if your child is caught with explicit photos of minors on his or her phone, as well as what could happen if your child sent such photos that were shared with his or her peers.

There are apps that can be downloaded onto a phone that make it easier for pictures to be sent to many others at once, and give the sender a false sense of security that the picture will disappear after being viewed. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and many teenagers have unwillingly had compromising pictures seen by countless others. What can happen if your child is one of those who sent or received an explicit photo and was caught with it on his or her phone?

Before 2011, North Dakota child pornography laws treated incidents like these as felonies, states Mobile Media Guard. Potentially, your teenager could have been required to register as a sex offender simply for having an explicit selfie of an underage classmate on his or her phone. Changes to the law now treat sexting as a Class A misdemeanor. Now, the consequences are not as serious as a felony, and teens should not receive a sex offender status for sexting.

However, there are still penalties associated with this activity. These include jail time of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000. As with any underage crime, you should understand that your child has the right to be treated fairly in court. The information in this blog is to inform you of the laws regarding underage distribution of child pornography, but should not be taken as legal advice.