His crime? Four counts of possessing nude photos of a minor on his phone. The victim? Himself.
Yes, that's right. Prosecutors in North Carolina felt that it was a good idea to charge a teenage boy with a felony and prosecute him as an adult because they found naked photos of him on his own phone from when he was 16.
According to The Guardian, Cormega Copening was also charged for possessing a nude photo of his 16-year-old girlfriend that was sent to him consensually and had not been shared with anyone else. The girlfriend was also charged with crimes for having nude photos of herself on her own phone.
As that story points out, the age of consent in North Carolina is 16, so the teens could legally be having sex, but were able to be arrested for sexting.
Experts told the newspaper that while there are technically laws against it, teens are rarely charged with sex crimes for sending nude photos if it's consensual and between only two people. The thinking, in most cases, is why potentially ruin a child's life by branding them a sex offender when non-criminal intervention that stresses better choices is often effective.
Some of the more conservative states, however, will prosecute teens for having photos of themselves.
“It’s dysfunctional to be charged with possession of your own image,” said Justin Patchin, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin told The Guardian. “And you don’t want kids to be sending such pictures to their significant others, but I don’t think it should be a criminal offense where there is no victim.”
It's the second case to come up recently that has people questioning how often the law should come into things when dealing with minors who are still learning what's appropriate.
Earlier this week outside Baltimore, a middle schooler was arrested after kissing a girl on a dare.