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Lawmakers Considering Changes To Sexting Laws

DENVER (CBS4) - For the second year, Colorado lawmakers are considering changing the penalties for sexting, specifically teenagers who send naked pictures to each other.

Opinions, though, are about as divided as they might be between parents.

Currently, teenage sexting is a felony under state and federal law.

Lawmakers agree that needs to change, but they disagree on the degree of change.

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Pete Lee (credit: CBS)

"I want to fully decriminalize what we refer to as consensual sexting, the voluntary and agreed sharing of graphic images between young people," Rep. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs said.

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(credit: CBS)

Rep. Yeullin Willet of Grand Junction disagrees.

"We need to not say that's OK because it's not," Willet said.

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Yeullin Willet (credit: CBS)

Willet's bill would make consensual sexting a misdemeanor or petty offense.

Colorado's elected District Attorneys support it.

"There's a lot of things kids do that we know they're going to do regardless of the law, but that doesn't mean that we authorize by law that they can do it," said Tom Raynes of Colorado's District Attorneys' Council.

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Tom Raynes (credit: CBS)

The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault says the bill would criminalize victims.

"It casts a net so broad that it captures more than just criminal behavior, and actually has the potential to capture victims of sexting, consensual activity, and abusive sexters," said Raana Simmons.

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Raana Simmons (credit: CBS)

Willet says he and Lee are working together to find middle ground.

That compromise will likely involve mandatory education for all teenagers who engage in sexting as a way of avoiding criminal charges when it comes to consensual sexting. The two different on non-consensual. Lee's bill makes most cases misdemeanors, while Willet's gives District Attorneys discretion of misdemeanor or felony.

Both bills are in committee on Tuesday.

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