More on the criminal prosecution of the 14 year old NJ girl who posted 30 nude images to her MySpace account:
A key hurdle for prosecutors is that technology has outpaced the legal system. Most states don't have laws specifically addressing teens who transmit explicit images, a practice sometimes referred to as "sexting."Complete coverage in the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
The only New Jersey laws applicable to the Clifton case are those designed for sexual predators and child pornography traffickers, said Parry Aftab, executive director of the nonprofit group WiredSafety.org.
Nonetheless, the consequences could be serious. If convicted of distributing child pornography, the 14-year-old could be forced to register with the state as a sex offender under Megan's Law.
Yet the mere prospect of invoking Megan's Law troubles some legal scholars and children's advocates. They say a statute for serial child molesters should not be used to punish an indiscreet teen who gets carried away with high-tech flirting.
The teen was charged with child pornography and distribution of child pornography, then released to her mother. The girl faces up to 17 years in jail.
David Wald, a spokesman for state Attorney General Anne Milgram, said prosecutors have been instructed to proceed cautiously.
Paula Dow, the Essex County prosecutor, said prosecutors across the state plan to work with the state Attorney General's Office to determine how best to treat these cases. But authorities will not take the problem lightly, she said.
"There will be very serious consequences," said Dow, president of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey.