COLUMBUS — State Reps. Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) and Jeff Rezabek (R-Clayton) today applauded the House for passing legislation they jointly sponsored that provides another option to Ohio’s courts when dealing with juveniles charged with possessing sexually explicit digital material, or engaging in “sexting” with a minor.
It was one of several bills OK’d today by the Ohio House of Representatives.
This bill takes into account the growing dilemma of juveniles who engage in “sexting” with other juveniles and the charges that may be filed by prosecutors by law. House Bill 355 prohibits anyone under the age of 19 from creating, distributing, or possessing sexually explicit digital material that depicts a minor through a phone or computer.
The law serves as an alternative option for prosecutors when determining whether to charge the offender with a felony, which has lifelong implications, or nothing at all. Offenders under the age of 19, and in which the victim was less than four years younger than the offender and over the age of 13, would then be eligible for a charge which carries with it a mandatory diversion program, which would cover a host of issues related to sexting, educating our youth about the dangers of doing so.
Provisions were placed in the bill to ensure that prosecutors can charge a more serious offense under qualifying circumstances if they want to pursue a heightened charge, rather than the diversion program.