Anthony Weiner would be well advised to retain a skilled criminal defense attorney.
Either that, or a tailor who can outfit him for the latest trend in prison stripes.
If the new reports of his sexting with a 15-year-old girl are true, the disgraced former congressman could find himself behind bars if convicted under both state and federal laws that criminalize such sick behavior.
Messages and photographs published byThe Daily Mail appear to show Weiner carrying on a months-long online sexual relationship with the girl.The lewd sexting reportedly included sexual role-playing and rape fantasies.
The messages allegedly indicate Weiner knew he was chatting with an underage girl.
Weiner is a known liar and sexting addict. But is he also a child predator? If you can stomach a reading of the news accounts, together with the lurid messages he seems to have sent, you will reach an inexorable conclusion. So, too, may a jury.
What crimes might Weiner have committed? Quite a few, actually. Both state and federal.
An adult who communicates with a minor via a computer or smart phone, either by transmitting indecent images or by engaging the minor in explicitly obscene “chat” conversations, is committing the crime of Disseminating Indecent Material To A Minor, as defined by New York State law (NY Penal Code 235.22). This is the so-called “real-life sexual encounter” law. Importantly, no real-life contact needs to have taken place in order for this crime to apply. Solicitation or persuasion is legally sufficient.
Then there are New York’s child pornography laws. Weiner could be charged with what’s known as Sexual Performance By A Child which is a felony (NY Penal Code 263). In essence, it is a crime to use a person under the age of 16 in a sexual performance, either actual or simulated. Both inducing and promoting such activities are separate and additional crimes.
Weiner could also be charged with Endangering The Welfare Of A Child. He need not ever have met the girl in person for this statute to have been violated. Of course, child welfare officials are already investigating Weiner for sending a lewd selfie that showed his young son lying in bed next to him. That’s called “child endangerment,” too.
It is not clear where Weiner’s young sexting partner resides. If it is a state other than New York, Weiner could also face charges in that jurisdiction. New York has among the most lenient laws on sexting. Other states have adopted expansive and strict laws with severe punishments. An incensed prosecutor elsewhere might seek Weiner’s extradition for a variety of felony offenses.
Finally, sexting with a minor is also a crime under federal law (18 U.S.C., 2251-2). Causing a minor to take part in sexually explicit conduct and using a computer or the internet to accomplish it is a felony. Much will depend on the full extent of what Weiner said and sent to his young alleged victim. It matters not that she may have agreed to any or all of it. Under the law, consent is not a defense available to Weiner.
Weiner’s self-destruction knows no bounds. His aberrant behavior already cost him his reputation, career, marriage and family.
The only question now is… will it cost him his freedom?
Gregg Jarrett is a Fox News Anchor and former defense attorney.