The laws surrounding child pornography are serious. Violators may be subject to state and federal prosecution for these crimes. If you find yourself facing charges related to child pornography, hire a qualified sex offender attorney in Houston immediately.
The federal statute governing child pornography defines child pornography as any visual depiction of a minor under the age of 18 engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Visual depictions include photographs, videos, undeveloped film or videotape, and data that can be converted into a visual image. Additionally manufactured images of minors that are indistinguishable from an actual minor can be considered child pornography as well. The minor does not need to be engaged in sexual activity; sexually suggestive subjects are sufficient. Child pornography is not protected by the First Amendment and is considered to be illegal contraband. However, it is important to note that viewing child pornography is not a crime, but possession, creation, and distribution of said materials are crimes.
Penalties for these crimes are as serious as the offenses. State laws and penalties vary. For federal crimes, offenders can expect to face fines and sentences ranging from 15 to 30 years in prison. Harsher sentences may apply if there are prior convictions or if the images are violent or depict abuse. Individuals convicted of these crimes can also expect to be listed in state and local sex offender registries.
Defenses to child pornography crimes largely revolve around computers. Remember, viewing images is not the crime, but saving them is. Inadvertently saving or caching an image to your computer as a result of poor tech skills can be a defense to possession. If other individuals had access to your computer, this can cast doubt on exactly who downloaded and viewed the material. It is also possible to download images, especially in large quantities, without initially viewing them, so proving intent to possess is critical. Intent is also important when defending against distribution charges, as many file sharing programs allow files to be accessed by many without the presence of actual intent to distribute. In addition to these defenses specific to pornography, your attorney will make certain that warrants, searches, and seizures were handled within the bounds of the law.
If you are facing prosecution for a child pornography offense, contact a sex offender attorney in Houston right away to get help.