Laws against child pornography are severe. They are nearly always charged as felonies with considerable state prison time and require those convicted to register as sex offenders, which will drastically affect their lives. They can be also be state or federal offenses.
If you have been charged with possessing or distributing child pornography, you will need the skills of a criminal defense attorney, like James Silverstein, who has successfully represented people charged with this serious offense.
Child pornography is material, video or printed, that shows minors, or those under 18, engaged in or simulating sexual acts. A sexual act, or its simulation, includes any of the following:
- Sexual intercourse, oral or anal sex, or lewd acts such as the touching of genitals, buttocks, or breasts done in a way to arouse someone.
- Sexual or lewd acts between minors and animals
- Use of objects inserted into intimate areas
- Displaying a minor’s genitals or intimate areas intended to arouse anyone viewing the material
- Other acts, such as normal bodily functions like defecation, used to arouse a viewer
Distribution of child pornography usually requires that the content be obscene. The definition of obscenity depends on the community. What is obscene in Alabama may not be considered obscene in Massachusetts. It is what the average person, “applying statewide standards” believes the sexual conduct as so offensive that it lacks any redeeming value; meaning no literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
To possess child pornography, there is no requirement that the material be considered “obscene.”
Many people are arrested after law enforcement infiltrates a web site or chat room and records the email addresses of those browsing child pornography sites and who exchange pornographic material involving minors.
In some instances, a computer user may stumble on a child pornography web site, or it was sent as spam, and was opened and viewed. If you did not intentionally view it or the site was not requested by you, you may have a defense.
Images of children engaged in sexual conduct are not legally considered pornographic if it is in a drawing, statute, or even in a film so long as the movie has been rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
If used for scientific or educational purposes, you may not be convicted so long as the purpose is deemed legitimate by a court.
Finally, if the minor reasonably appeared to be over 18 or was advertised as over 18, this can operate as a defense as well.
In some cases, a child pornography offense may be a misdemeanor, but is more often a felony. Depending on the offense and your criminal history, you could face more than 10 years in state prison and be required to register as a permanent sex offender, severely restricting your opportunity for employment, housing, travel, or to live a normal life.
Call the office of James Silverstein for a free consultation if you are charged with a child pornography charge.