Fourteen’s the cutoff age in Texas. Any child younger than 14 is presumed not be able to consent to anything which really causes major issues. This is because at 14, you’re talking 8th grade, 9th graders and these kids are in the experimental phase. Some of them are sexually active.
Each year I give a speech. My son is 15 now but I’ve given a speech at the middle school telling these students, “This is serious stuff, so you got to watch out for it.” Sexting is an issue but that’s something I think that they try to not handle though the criminal justice system, more through counseling for the teenagers. Technically, it is considered child pornography.
Interviewer: Do you encounter many cases involving minors communicating with one another?
Attorney Churak: I haven’t handles a large number of criminal cases dealing with that. I’ve had some issues with that in other matters but not on the criminal side. I’ve had some familial issues where that had been an issue but criminally, they really don’t enforce that to the statutes.
There was a sexting statute in Texas but I have not had one case involving it and I think they look more to counseling. Of course, the juvenile justice system is a lot different than the adult criminal justice system.
Interviewer: Let’s say if the case came to you and it was in the criminal vein, you’d probably try to get it transferred to a juvenile court?
Attorney Churak: It would depend. In Texas, if the child is under the age of 17, he’s considered a juvenile. Unless you’re certified as an adult, but on these types of cases they’re not going to certify the child as adult.
They may move for determinative sentence, which is a little different situation but they’re not going to certify them as adult. Usually, with a juvenile, you’re looking at probation and counseling. They’re not going to put you away in the youth commission holding facilities for something like this.
As long as there’s no contact or nothing that’s not consensual, usually it’s just going to be resolved within the juvenile system with counseling.