'Sexting': Should Child Pornography Laws Apply?

"Depending on the facts of the case, I would say a lot of these cases shouldn't be heard in court at all," Adler said. "These are cases where teens are engaging in bad judgment, which teens have always done, and suddenly finding themselves caught in the web of the criminal law because, whereas previously they may have engaged in inappropriate sexual banter on the telephone, now there's a photographic record of that sexual banter, and that is what triggers the scrutiny of child pornography law."

For Alpert, it means he's on a sex offender registry until the age of 43.

"This will follow me around for the rest of my life," said Alpert. "My probation is up, that'll be three years. I then have 20 years on the sex registry, and then I can petition to be taken off of it, and then can be approved or denied. When I am a 20-year-old kid and I explain that I am a sex offender, it's bad. When I am a 40-year-old man and I explain that I am a sex offender, it's going to look a lot worse."

Sexting: Charge Girlfriend, Too?

Technically, Alpert's ex-girlfriend also could have been charged for taking the pictures and sending them to Alpert, but she wasn't. And he's glad.

"I always say that I can't say it to my ex-girlfriend specifically, but I want to reiterate that I am sorry," said Alpert. "I really am, and it's not because I'm a sex offender, because I got kicked out of school, because I'm on probation, I can't go to the beach, whatever. It's because what I did and I'm sorry for it. And I mean, I said it. I can't do anything else besides say I'm sorry over and over and over, and I don't think it's enough, but it's all I've got right now."

On the day he met with "Nightline," Alpert was preparing for a college interview. He needed to convince administrators he's not a danger to other students in order to be admitted.

"It was a 16-year-old girl who sent me pictures when I was 17," said Alpert. "What I did was stupid, and it was mean and it was angry and it was deviant. But it was not sexual in my mind. I wasn't thinking clearly. Well, the argument could be made, 'if he wasn't thinking clearly once, he could not be thinking clearly again.' But I have certainly matured enough and I have worked hard trying to understand why I did what I did."

He and his lawyer hope the change in law -- if passed -- will be retroactive for Alpert. But until that time, he will be the face, at 20 years old, of a sex offender.

The Florida prosecutor's office didn't feel the same way. In a statement to "Nightline," the prosecutors defended their position, saying "in the criminal prosecution of defendant Phillip Alpert, we were bound to follow legislative intent of the law. That means Phillip Alpert remains a registered sex offender until he's 43 years old."

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