State Senate passes Stanley’s bill, ‘sexting’ teens could avoid felony

(Richmond, Va.) (AP) — The Virginia Senate has passed a bill intended to keep teenagers who willingly share sexually explicit images with one another from being branded felony sex offenders.

The bill passed Monday on a bipartisan 35-to-5 vote. It was sponsored by Southside Republican Sen. Bill Stanley Jr. and Democratic Sen. Scott A. Surovell.

Stanley says the bill would give prosecutors the option to charge “sexting” among minors as a misdemeanor. Under current law, the sender and recipient can be charged with dissemination and possession of child pornography, a felony.

Democratic Sen. “Chap” Petersen says the bill is well-intentioned but could criminally charge minors for something that parents should handle.

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.