Today, roughly 40% of Americans use online dating sites. Your online dating behavior can have some very serious legal consequences.
Catfishing- Not a good idea.
Last year, Minnesotan wedding photographer, Bobby Faerber testified in court against fellow Minnesotan, Jesse Gullickson. Gullickson had used Faerber’s photos to create a fake dating account on the popular app, Plenty of Fish. He asked the matches that he garnered through the fake account to send him nude pictures of themselves in addition to engaging in other inappropriate sexual communication.
Faerber did his own detective work to discover Gullickson’s con. His goal in pressing charges was to redeem his reputation. He had built a successful wedding photography business over many years. He didn’t want people to think that he was the one sending these messages. As a result, the judge convicted Gullickson of criminal defamation.
Click here to watch a video recording of a portion of the court case.
Are you sure your date is an adult?
Be careful, even if you are not the catfisher. If you are interacting with someone else who is lying about some aspect of themselves, this can still result in very negative consequences for you.
At least, that’s what happened to a 19 year old man in Indiana. He was using the site, Hot or Not. He matched with a 14 year old girl posing online as a 17 year old. They met and had sex. Her mother and father found out and the young man was charged with 90 days in jail, 5 years of probation and a lifetime of being on the sex offender registry in his state. He received this punishment despite the fact that the girl was very open about the fact that she had deliberately lied about her age.
Sexting and Child Pornography Charges
This article outlines some disturbing statistics. According to some data, 1 in 7 teens are “sexting” or sending nude or semi nude pictures of themselves. And 1 in 4 teens are receiving “sexts.”
Sexting is in a nutshell, the making and distributing of child pornography. This is a very serious crime with a lifetime of consequences. Furthermore, even people who are not involved in making or soliciting the sexts may face legal trouble if they possess the image or forward it to others. Watch the video below to hear a school resource officer talking about the problem.
Note: Utah Code Section 76-10-1206 states that if the child is 16 or 17 it is a class A misdemeanor. However, if the child is younger than 16 it is a class B misdemeanor. The officer in this video says something different because he works in a different state. Clickhere to see the statute.
Reach out to law enforcement right away if you or your child receive child pornography. Above all, protect yourself.
Even if you are an adult who is considering sending a sext to another adult, consider this quote from the authors of the article above. “Bottom line: Sending and receiving nude/sexual pics or vids just isn’t a smart idea. Either you’re under 18 and at risk of child pornography charges, or you’re over 18 and at risk of having your photos posted online for the entire world to see…or both.”
In conclusion, it is very easy to lie on online profiles in a variety of ways. In addition, nothing that goes online every really disappears. Be smart. Let the only bad consequences of your online dating experience be awkward dates, not criminal charges. If you are in trouble, contact a lawyer and get help.