Understanding Child Pornography Laws
Being charged with a crime related to the possession of child pornography is very serious. If convicted, you will experience long term effects on your life.
Even the accusation of a child pornography-related crime can tarnish your reputation. If this is the case, it is important to understand child pornography laws.
At the offices of the Tidwell Law Firm, PLLC, our experienced Texas criminal law attorneys can guide you through child pornography laws in our state.
If you are facing criminal charges for a child pornography-related crime, call our law office immediately and exercise your right to legal representation. Working with a skilled lawyer may improve the outcome of your case.
What Constitutes Child Pornography in Texas?
One important thing to establish when facing child pornography charges in Texas is the legal definition of child pornography and possession of the pornographic material. As found in Texas Penal Code Section 43.26, a person commits an offense when the person:
- “Knowingly or intentionally possesses, or knowingly or intentionally accesses with intent to view, visual material…” that features or depicts any child who is younger than the legal age of majority (18) engaging in any form of sexual conduct; and
- The person knows that the child is depicted in a sexual manner.
To clarify one of the terms used in the above statute and description, “visual material” can include any film, photograph, negative, computer screen, and more.
Different Child Pornography Crimes
Possession of child pornography is a serious crime, but the punishment is less harsh than other child pornography crimes.
- [Promotion or production of] sexual performance by a child. As found in Texas Penal Code Section 43.25, sexual performance by a child is any performance that includes any content where a child conducts themselves sexually in a performance. Any person who produces such content (directly contributes to the creation of the content or its manufacture) or promotes the material is guilty of a crime.
- The sexual exploitation of children is also illegal under federal law. As found in 18 U.S. Code Section 2251 – Sexual Exploitation of Children, it is against the law to employ, use, persuade or coerce a minor to engage in sexual conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of said conduct.
What Are the Penalties for Child Pornography?
A person convicted of a child pornography crimes faces penalties dependent upon the specifics of the crime.
For example, production of sexual performance by a child is a more serious offense than is possession of pornographic materials depicting a minor.
The crime of possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony. The offense may increase to a second-degree felony if the defendant is a repeat offender.
Promotion of pornographic material that depicts a minor is a second-degree felony, although it may be a first-degree charge if this is the defendant’s secondary or subsequent offense.
If a person employs, authorizes, or induces a minor to engage in sexual conduct (for the purpose of creating pornographic material), the offense is a second-degree felony. If the child involved is younger than 14 years of age, the offense is a first-degree felony.
Second- and first-degree felony charges are extremely severe. If a defendant faces such charges in Texas, the penalties may include:
- First-degree felony – Between five and 99 years to life imprisonment plus a $10,000 fine;
- Second-degree felony – Between two and 20 years in prison and a fine of $10,000; and
- Third-degree felony – Between two and 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
As found in the same section of U.S. code cited above, a person found guilty of exploitation of children will face between 15 and 30 years of imprisonment. This mandate comes from the federal government.
If the defendant has previously been convicted of a sex-related crime, including sexual contact involving a minor or sexual abuse, the punishment increases to between 25 and 50 years’ imprisonment.
As a note, the FBI does actively prosecute child sex crimes.
The Importance of Hiring a Skilled Attorney if Facing Child Pornography Criminal Charges
If you face charges of a child pornography crime, you must understand child pornography laws and how to best defend yourself against charges. The best way to do this is to hire a legal professional who is fluent in the language of the law and can provide you with the critical information that you need.
In addition to prison time and a large fine, a child pornography conviction can also have a huge impact on other aspects of your life, including your personal relationships, your career, and your future opportunities.
There are few crimes that are more stigmatized than child pornography-related crimes, and the charges against you alone may be enough to adversely affect your life even if you are not found guilty of the crime.
You Have the Right to Legal Counsel
Regardless of the criminal charges that you’re facing, you have the constitutional right to representation from a competent lawyer.
Remember: you are innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, in cases like this, a judge and jury are often biased against the defendant from the get-go. This is all the more reason to hire the best criminal defense attorney in Texas that you can find.
Our Lawyers Are Available to Talk Today
At the offices of the Tidwell Law Firm, PLLC, we understand the severity of child pornography-related charges and the potential repercussions you are facing.
Our lawyers believe that every person charged with a crime deserves skilled legal counsel. When you hire us, we will work hard to protect your rights, help you to understand child pornography laws, and defend you against the charges you are facing.
To reach our law office today for your initial case consultation, please call us directly or send us a message at your convenience.