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Sexual Assault, Megan's Law, and Other Sex Crimes: Child Pornography

In New Jersey, child pornography offenses are outlined in the criminal statute imposing fines, prison time and other penalties for endangering the welfare of a child. Broadly speaking, child pornography offenses can be split into three categories: possession, distribution and production of child pornography.

Possession, Distribution and Production of Child Pornography

Possession of Child Pornography

In New Jersey, possession of child pornography is a third-degree offense. Third-degree offenses carry potential penalties including three to five years of imprisonment and a $15,000 fine. Possession charges can be based upon possession of an actual or simulated image “depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse” of a minor (under 18 years of age). This can include:

  • Photographs
  • Videos
  • Computer games
  • Other programs and computer files

Critically, Section 2C:24-4 of the New Jersey Statutes employs a “knowingly” standard for possession of child pornography. In other words, if you did not know and should not reasonably have known that you were in possession of a pornographic image depicting a minor (or simulating the depiction of a minor), you are not guilty of the offense.

Distribution of Child Pornography

Distribution of child pornography is a second-degree offense. Second-degree offenses carry the possibility of five to 10 years of imprisonment and a $150,000 fine. New Jersey prosecutors can pursue child pornography distribution charges against anyone who:

  • Knowingly distributes child pornography;
  • Knowingly possesses child pornography with the intent to distribute; or,
  • Stores child pornography using a file-sharing program such that the files are accessible by other users.

With respect to file-sharing, prosecutors do not have to prove that anyone actually downloaded the files. They also do not have to prove that you were aware the files were available for download.

Production of Child Pornography

Production of child pornography can be charged as either a first or second-degree offense:

  • First-Degree: “A person commits a crime of the first degree if he causes or permits a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act if the person knows, has reason to know or intends that the prohibited act may be photographed, filmed, reproduced, or reconstructed in any manner, including on the Internet, or may be part of an exhibition or performance.”
  • Second-Degree: “A person commits a crime of the second degree if he photographs or films a child in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act or who uses any device, including a computer, to reproduce or reconstruct the image of a child in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act.”

Federal Child Pornography Offenses

The federal government can pursue child pornography charges under a broad range of statutes. For example, under 18 U.S.C. Section 2251, production of child pornography is a felony offense carrying 15 to 30 years behind bars for a first offense. There are federal laws that apply to possession, distribution and importation of child pornography as well.

Enhanced Sentencing and Additional Penalties for Child Pornography

Like other child-related and sexual offenses, in New Jersey, individuals convicted on child pornography charges face a variety of additional penalties on top of fines and prison time. Section 2C:24-4 also includes mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment for certain child pornography offenses without the possibility of parole.

Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman

If you are facing state or federal child pornography charges in New Jersey, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a meeting with a defense attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, call 1-877-435-6371 or inquire online now.

 

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