Teenagers in New Mexico will no longer face felony child pornography charges for sending naked pictures of themselves while sexting, The Guardian reports.
In the past, anyone found with sexually explicit images of a minor could be charged with possession and distribution of child pornography — even if those images were obtained with the subject's permission and sent from one adolescent to another.
But with sexting becoming increasingly common among smartphone-wielding young people, New Mexico moved to pass a bill decriminalizing “consensual sexting” among teens ages 14 to 18.
According to Families Against Mandatory Minimums, punishments for such crimes may include several years in prison, a permanent criminal record and mandatory registration as a sex offender. (All for swapping nudies with your also-underage SO — seems kind of crazy, right?)
But under the new law, consenting teens who swap sexually explicit snaps will no longer face prosecution for stripping down for the camera.
Explaining the legislative change to The Guardian, New Mexico State Senator George Muñoz said,
Kids will be kids, and they're going to make mistakes. You can't punish them for the rest of their lifetime with a charge of child pornography…if they're consensually sending photos back and forth.
Muñoz is among those advocating for amending established laws to protect groups most affected by today's evolving social and technological trends.
Though not everyone sides with the Muñoz-backed bill — it was met with significant opposition before passing on Thursday — many people seem to agree that teenagers shouldn't be punished for being teenagers (even if they do make stupid decisions).
Get more details about the new bill over at The Guardian.