New Mexico recently exempted minors from prosecution for for possession of child pornography. The new legislation appears to be modeled on Nebraska’s child pornography statute, which was modified in 2009 to exclude teens from prosecution for possession. Florida’s recent sexting legislation accident not withstanding, New Mexico and Nebraska appear to be the only states that exempt teens from child pornography felonies, at least for possession.
This news from New Mexico is a significant development, since a lot of other states have passed misdemeanor or diversion bills since 2009, which still criminalize sexting but apply lesser penalties than felonies.
The New Mexico legislation still does not go far enough, since it does not protect consensual teen sexters from prosecution for creating or distributing child pornography of themselves. What we need in every state are age-span exemptions, like we have for statutory rape, in all child pornography laws so teens close in age cannot be charged. This should cover any sexting–including the creation, possession, and distribution of images–as long as it is consensual.
More coverage from Reason and The Cut. NM Governor Martinez (R) was not happy about the sexting amendment.