Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson wrote in the ruling that Charles Warren, a 32-year-old Canton resident, was not in violation of the particular state law used to indict him in 2013, and his indictment must be overturned as a result.
Warren was arrested by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office in October 2012, after officials say he sent a picture of his genitals to the cellphone of a Dahlonega woman, who was unaware the picture was being sent.
He was indicted in April 2013 under a Georgia law enacted in 1970 that made it illegal to send unsolicited depictions of nudity unless there was a warning message had been “imprinted upon the envelope or container of such material,” the ruling says.
Thompson noted in the decision that, because the alleged photo was sent digitally and wasn’t a tangible object, the particular law wasn’t applicable to the case. A text message also has no envelope or container for a warning to be printed on, the ruling says.
The law used to charge Warren was aimed at items sent through the mail, not text messaging, which didn’t exist when the law was created.
Previously, Warren had appealed in Cherokee County Superior Court to have his indictment thrown out but was denied, according to the Cherokee Clerk of Court’s Office.
The Chief Justice wrote that this denial was an error and that the law in question “does not criminalize his conduct.”
District Attorney Shannon Wallace said her office respected the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision.
Whether Warren might be indicted on any different charges, Wallace said she couldn’t say.
“At this stage, we will consider the best interest of the victim as well as judicial economy to determine our next steps,” she said.