Child pornography is not protected under the First Amendment. Under both federal and state law, it is illegal to produce, distribute, receive, or possess any child pornography images. Furthermore, it is illegal to attempt to commit or conspire to commit any child pornography offenses.
The applicable federal law defines child pornography as any visual depictions of any child under the age of 18 that is sexually explicit. These visual depictions refer to photographs, digital images, computer generated images, and video images. Additionally, any undeveloped film or electronic data that could be turned into sexually explicit images are illegal.
In order to constitute child pornography, a visual depiction does not necessarily need to show a child engaging in a sexual act. Rather, it also encompasses nude images of children that are sexually suggestive.
Because there are both federal and state laws that prohibit child pornography, you may be charged at the state or federal level depending on the nature of your crime. Sometimes, defendants may face both state and federal charges. You will face federal charges if the child pornography crossed over state or international borders. For example, if you sent a pornographic image to someone in a different state via the United States Postal Service, this would warrant federal charges. In most cases, child pornography cases involving the use of the Internet are also handled at the federal level.
Convicted child pornography offenders face serious legal consequences. If you are convicted of federal charges, you will face a statutory minimum of 15 to 30 years in prison, in addition to fines as a first-time offender. If an offender has prior convictions or the offense is deemed particularly violent or sadistic, another conviction may lead to life in prison.
In Texas, possession of child pornography is classified as a third degree felony. However, the charge is raised to a second degree felony if it can be shown the defendant had the intent to distribute or promote the pornographic images. If you had at least six visual depictions of child pornography in your possession, it is assumed that you had the intent to distribute or promote them.
Remember, a child pornography charge does not always lead to a conviction. There are several defenses you may be able to use if you are charged with child pornography. It’s possible law enforcement is mistaken, and the images in question are not child pornography because the person is over the age of 18. Or, you may be able to prove you were not aware you were viewing child pornography, and therefore did not have the intent to commit a crime. Some defendants may be able to use the entrapment defense if they feel they were coerced into the situation. It’s important to speak with your attorney to discuss which, if any, of these defense strategies will be the most effective.
If you have been charged with a child pornography offense or other sex crime, take immediate action by hiring a highly qualified criminal defense lawyer. Dallas-area residents can contact a criminal attorney at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey C. Grass by calling (972) 954-4441.