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Novel juvenile criminal case has interesting contours

Although the below-noted case we describe relates to matters that occurred outside California, we pass along the details to California-based readers of our criminal law blog, anyway, believing the story to be of notable interest and quite thought-provoking.

For starters, it relates to a juvenile involved in a nonviolent criminal matter and seemingly a first offender. Such a case often resonates with adults, given that many parents of minors spend a great deal of time worrying about their children and hoping that their sons and daughters routinely exercise sound judgment.

They don't always do that, of course. In fact, most adults know absolutely that adolescents -- including teenagers -- are not fully mature. Rather, they are experimenting, evolving and trying to fit in. Sometimes they make mistakes, without meaning to harm themselves or others, and confront a criminal justice system that can be harsh and unforgiving.

We were all kids once, and many of us are thankful for the second chances we got. That was likely also the sentiment felt by a North Carolina 17-year-old boy who took some so-called nude "selfies" of himself on his smartphone when he was 16. He recently reached a plea agreement that enabled him to avoid being registered as a sex offender and potentially spending up to 10 years in prison.

Many readers might reasonably wonder how things ever got so far. Some people might even find it remarkable that the teen was cited as both the victim and perpetrator. Ironically, his possession of his own images resulted in child pornography charges being brought against him.

"it's dysfunctional to be charged with possession of your own image," noted one child advocate who decried the decision to file charges against the youth.

The teen was also charged with possession of a selfie taken by his girlfriend, who is also a minor. She was also criminally charged and pleaded to a one-year probationary term.

Juveniles often commit acts of indiscretion without fully considering the consequences. A proven criminal defense attorney well appreciates that and can work diligently on behalf of a youthful offender to secure an outcome that mitigates adverse consequences to the fullest extent possible.

Source: Business Insider UK, "17-year-old faced 10 years in prison and being labeled a 'sex offender' for possessing his own nude selfies," Daniel Kreps (Rolling Stone), Sept. 21, 2015

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