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'It's Child Pornography': Attorney On Teens Sharing Sexts

SHAKOPEE, Minn. (WCCO) -- A criminal investigation continued Tuesday into alleged sexting by members of the Shakopee High School boys hockey team.

On Monday, the school and Shakopee police announced they were looking into the sharing of explicit pictures of several female students.

In a statement Monday, the school urged parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of transmitting inappropriate images.

Criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who has handled sexting cases involving both juveniles and adults, says that when it comes to juveniles, the lines are clear cut.

"It's child pornography," he said, adding, "A juvenile cannot consent to partake in some kind of sexual or pornographic material."

Tamburino says many teens just don't understand.

"If you have a 17-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, and they decide to share images with each other that are of a sexual nature, they could be charged," the attorney said.

The consequences can be devastating. Under state and federal law, possessing child porn is a felony and the impact of a conviction is lifelong.

"They will have to register as a sex offender, and that is what is really sad about this, because you don't want that to happen," Tamburino said.

Because of the possible harsh consequences, prosecutors are increasingly finding alternative ways to handle juvenile cases.

But it's not just kids that can get in trouble.

Under Minnesota's new so-called "revenge porn law," it is now a crime for an adult to share explicit images without the other adult's consent.

"So, if you have a picture of someone that you are intimately involved with and you share it with others without their permission, you could be in trouble," Tamburino said.

For both kids and adults, an important thing to remember is that if you receive one of these images -- and even if you quickly delete it -- that image could end up being saved on some kind of back up or cloud server.

If a family shares a cloud account, that image could exist on an account that has mom and dad's name on it, too.

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