Attorney General endorses change in sexting law

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Teens younger than age 18 could face a misdemeanor charge, not a felony, for "sexting" under a bill filed in the Texas Legislature.

Sexting is cell phones are used, typically by teenagers, to send each other sexually explicit messages or images.

The measure by state Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin was endorsed Monday by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The bill would reclassify a sexting offense as a Class C misdemeanor for underage first-time violators.

Current Texas law says anyone who transmits an explicit image of a teen can face felony charges of possessing or trafficking child pornography.

Watson's bill, filed last week, would also require school districts to provide education for students on the dangers of sexting.

A minor convicted of sexting – along with the minor's parents- would be sentenced to participating in an education program about sexting's long term harmful consequences.

In November, Abbott said the bill would have zero affect on the budget. He also said he hopes the bill would move quickly and pass with unanimous support.  If lawmakers in the legislative session agree, the bill would go into effect in September.

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(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)