Child Pornography

Child pornography is punishable both under the State and Federal laws in California. Child pornography, also known as child sexual abuse material, refers to the depiction of sexually explicit content or conduct that involves a minor. It is illegal to produce, distribute, import, receive, or possess any images and videos both under the federal and state laws. Violation of the federal child pornography laws is a serious crime that can lead to a prison sentence of up to 8 years and a fine of $100,000 for convicted offenders. In case you are charged with child pornography crimes, it is crucial to involve a criminal defense lawyer as the process can be life-altering. Leah Legal is a result-oriented law firm that handles child pornography crimes in Los Angeles, California.

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California Child Pornography Laws

California law defines Child pornography as the availability of any images, videos, computer files, or data that portray a minor in a sexual act regardless of whether it is real or simulated. The sexual act may include masturbation, oral copulation, intercourse, or displaying the child’s genitalia for sexual satisfaction.

The contents are in various forms and may include either of the following:

  • It may be a visual representation of a minor engaging in sexual activities or displaying the genital area. Nudity does not make content obscene, meaning there should be the presence of sexual activity.
  • An audio recording which its primary purpose is to portray and describe a minor having sexual intercourse.
  • A written material that uses vulgar and inappropriate language while inclusively unfolding erotic scenes that involve a minor.

California’s child pornography is outlined under penal code 311. The law punishes the following acts that constitute the criminal offense of child pornography:

  • Under subsection 311.1 and 311.2 of the penal code, it is against the law to knowingly transport, send or duplicate any child pornography with the intent to distribute it.
  • Subsection 311.3 clearly explains the charge of sexual exploitation of a minor by knowingly developing, printing, duplicating, or exchanging any child pornography.
  • As stated in the 311.4 penal code, it is illegal to knowingly hire, employ, coerce, or persuade a minor to partake in a pornography film.
  • It is prohibited to advertise morally indecent child pornography for sale or distribution knowingly.
  • Possession or controlling of any child pornography produced using a minor is illegal, as stated in penal code 311.11.

California’s law considers the age of the victim during the production of sexually explicit material. However, in cases where the minor is legally emancipated, or a married couple is involved in a consensual act, then that does not qualify as child pornography.

You will be charged in a federal court if you either distribute to or receive child pornographic materials from other states. Although the federal authorities lead the case, the state prosecutors can also charge you on child pornography.

Penalties for Child Pornography in California

The penalties for child pornography in California is dependent on facts surrounding the case. Only the possession of a child pornography case is charged as a wobbler, which is a third-degree offense. Therefore, offenders can be tried as misdemeanors or felonies.

When your case is charged as a misdemeanor child pornography, that means you can receive a jail term of up to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $2000. For felony possession of child pornography, you can spend up to three years in state prison and receive a fine of up to $10,000. The penalties under penal code 311 apply if you shared a child pornographic material with an adult or charged with sexual exploitation.

If you shared child pornography with a minor, then your case will be considered a felony, and you can be sentenced up to three years and receive a fine of up to $10,000.

Possession of child pornography for commercial purposes is a felony, meaning you can spend up to six years in state prison and fined up to $100,000.

Section 311.4 indicates that hiring or employing a minor for a first time offender will be a second-degree charge, and you can be sentenced for up to one year in county jail. You can also receive a maximum fine of $1000. If you are charged with a felony, your jail term can increase to a maximum of three years in state prison and fined up to $10,000. For subsequent convictions, it will be considered a first-degree charge and can result in three years prison term and a maximum fine of $50,000.

Using a minor to produce pornography for commercial purposes is a felony crime, meaning you can receive punishment for up to eight years prison term in state prison. You can also be subjected to a $10,000 fine. Production of child pornography for non-commercial purposes will result in a three-year jail term and a $10,000 fine. If the victim was under the age of 14 years, it is considered a first-degree charge, and you can receive an additional six years in state prison.

If you are convicted of advertising child pornography for sale or distribution, it will be considered a second-degree offense. You will face up to one year in county jail and a fine not exceeding $1000. The subsequent convictions felony of this penal code is considered a first-degree charge and can yield a four-year prison term and a fine of up to $50,000.

Section 311.11 indicates that if you are charged with possession and control of child pornography, you can be punished with one or three years in county jail and a fine of up to $2,500. If you are a subsequent offender, then your sentence will increase with up to six years in state prison and a fine of $10,000.

California Sex Offender Registration

Current California law of the sex offender registration act states that anyone convicted of child pornography charges should be included in the state’s sex offender registry. However, California Senate Bill 384, Chapter 541, has made changes that will take effect from the year 2021. The sex offender registry will be divided into three degrees.

The first degree will require an offender to be listed for a minimum of ten years, the second will be twenty years, and the third for a lifetime. Child pornography cases will be classified under the first or third degree. If your claim is charged as a misdemeanor, you will be registered for a minimum period of ten years. For felonies or subsequent felonies, you will be required to be listed under lifetime registration.

California Megan’s Law

Megan’s law was enacted in 1996 and mandates that all convicted sex offenders be registered as sex offenders and also notify the local communities in which they reside. A website known as California Megan’s Law website was created to summarize the duties required by sex offenders. The responsibilities include the following:

  • If you are convicted as a sex offender, then you are required to register within a maximum of five days after your release.
  • You are also required to update your information regularly.
  • It shows how you should present your information to the public using zip codes, cities, counties, and in some cases, home addresses.
  • If you were found in possession of illegal pornography, you are permitted to apply the exclusion of private information from public disclosure.

California penal code 290.018 states that failure to register as a sex offender is a crime. The crime will result in you spending at most one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1000.

What the Prosecution Must Prove

For you to be convicted on child pornography charges, the prosecution needs to prove either of the following without reasonable doubt:

The prosecuting attorney needs to demonstrate your involvement in sending, bringing, or causing the transportation of a sexually explicit material depicting a minor into the state.

If you were in possession, prepared, published, developed, produced, duplicate, or printed obscene material showing a minor having sexual acts or displaying their private parts.

You owned child pornography to distribute, show, or exchanging the material with either an adult or a minor. The prosecution can also prove that you knowingly offered to distribute obscene matter.

The prosecution needs to demonstrate how you used illegal pornography material for commercial purposes or in other ways that can benefit you. The benefit does not necessarily be financial.

For the case to be pursued by California state prosecutors, they need to prove that at a certain point, the explicit content depicting a minor was within the state boundaries. The content may have been sent by mail or accessed through the internet.

If you were involved in the acting process of illegal pornography, the prosecutors would need to prove that you knowingly participated, even though a minor was hired or employed to be part of the film.

Your involvement in the advertising of sexually explicit content through your media for sales or distribution purposes needs to be demonstrated. For you to be convicted, the prosecutor must prove you advertised the content despite knowing the depiction of a minor engaging in sexual activities in the material.

The prosecuting side should prove you used, employed, persuaded, or induced the minor. The demonstration can also show your involvement in coercing the minor’s guardian or parent. For this to be admissible, the prosecution side needs to prove the minor personally engaged in or simulated sexual conduct.

Common Defenses to Fight Child Pornography Charges

There are several legal defenses to a conviction of a child pornography case:

The defense can argue that you did not have the intention of violating a law. You will have to prove that you purchased an order of sexually explicit content, but you were unaware of a minor’s involvement. If the prosecution can not prove that you knew the minor was depicted in the material, then the judge or jury gives the final ruling in your favor.

In some cases, the police officers might obtain evidence through illegal means. If you are a victim of unlawful search or seizure without probable cause or a warrant, then the evidence will be excluded from the trial. Since there will be no relevant evidence at your trial, the case will be dismissed.

The court can not convict you based on a false accusation. If you are a victim of a false allegation that can not be proved, then the case will not proceed further. You also have the right to sue the false accuser for damages.

You may have participated in a film or ordered one where an adult played the part of a minor. Since the element of the performer being under aged can not be established, the judge or jury must find in your favor.

The defense can also argue that you have a psychological addiction. If you underwent the necessary psychological evaluations, the psychologist could be called to testify as a witness in your case. If the psychologist’s testimonies show you are addicted and unable to make rational decisions, you will not be convicted. The court will ask you to seek professional help instead of serving time in prison.

You might have been a victim of unlawful entrapment. In some cases, the police officers being aware of your sexual misconduct in another state might set you up and arrest you. If you make an order as a result of badgering or repeated requests by law enforcement, it can create a defense to conviction. If the defense makes a proper argument, then you should be released.

Offenses Related to Child Pornography

The crimes are usually charged together with child pornography cases and, or have similar facts that the prosecutor must substantiate. The instances, according to the California Penal Code, include the following:

Lewd conduct with a minor: The California penal code 288 defines the behavior as an adult engaging in a sex act with an underage person. It is charged differently depending on the minor’s age. The prosecution will need to provide evidence of you touching the minor with the intent of gratification of lust, passions, or sexual desires. The consent of the underage individual to the sexual act is not considered in court. If found guilty, you will spend three, six, or eight years in state prison. You will also be fined a maximum of $10,000.

Statutory Rape: As stated in the CPC section 261.5, this is applicable if you had unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor who is not married to you. The charge, in this case, is different depending on your age and the victim’s age. If you are convicted, you will be imprisoned in a county jail for up to one year and fined a maximum of $1000. In this case, you are not required to register as a sex offender, unless other dangerous acts are involved.

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor: CPC section 265a explains that this occurs when you encourage or cause a minor to fail to conform to the law. The charge is a misdemeanor as it involves sexual abuse of the minor. If convicted, you will face up to one-year jail term in county jail and a fine of at most $2,500.

Human trafficking of minors: Section 236.1 of the CPC states that this occurs when persuade, induces, or attempt to cause a minor to engage in a commercial sex act. The charge is considered a felony and will attract a fine of up to $500,000 and life imprisonment in state prison. The judge or the jury will consider age, violation of the minor’s liberty, and the relationship to you to give the final verdict. If the minor is handicapped or disabled, then it will be considered in the final ruling.

Creating or distributing revenge pornography: Revenge porn is prohibited under section 647j of the CPC. Revenge porn occurs when you intentionally distribute private sexually explicit content depicting a minor and end up causing emotional distress. The offense is considered a misdemeanor, and if found guilty, you will be subjected to a jail term of up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1000. You will not be charged if you distributed the content to comply with a court order or while reporting the offense.

Find a Child Pornography Attorney Near Me

Facing a child pornography charge is a serious offense that will interfere with your rights, freedom, and livelihood. The trial case for sexual abuse against the minor involved is one of the hardest to fight. The emotional hardship causes the justice department to be ruthless if you are found guilty. You will require the services of a professional criminal defense lawyer to negotiate a lesser charge in a plea bargain. In case you go to trial, the lawyer can reduce your sentence or get your charges dismissed altogether. It is, therefore, critical that you hire the services of a skilled and dedicated criminal defense attorney. To get a hold of such a law firm in Los Angeles, contact Leah Legal at 818-484-1100 for the best representation in court.