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Child Pornography

Facing child pornography charges can have serious consequences. Contact us to speak with a New Jersey child pornography lawyer about your defense strategy today.

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.

Defenses to Child Pornography Charges in New Jersey

While a child pornography conviction can have serious consequences, there are many potential defenses to these charges under state and federal law. When you choose a New Jersey child pornography attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, your attorney will examine your case’s facts in detail to identify all of the defenses that you have available.

Depending on the circumstances involved in your case, these defenses may include:

Unintentional Possession of Child Pornography

If you did not realize that you were in possession of child pornography, this may serve as a complete defense to your child pornography possession charge. For example, if a roommate downloaded illicit images or video onto your computer, you do not deserve to be convicted and face consequences for the rest of your life.

Lack of Knowledge that the Person Depicted was a Minor

It is also a defense to a child pornography charge that you did not know that the person depicted in the image or video was a child. If you reasonably believed that the person depicted was an adult, this can provide a defense as well, and it will be up to the prosecution to prove that you should have known that the person depicted was a minor.

Entrapment by State or Federal Law Enforcement

Entrapment is a defense to child pornography charges under New Jersey and federal law. In state child pornography cases, Section 2C:12-2 of the New Jersey Statutes provides that “a person prosecuted  for an offense shall be acquitted if he proves by a preponderance of evidence that his conduct occurred in response to an entrapment.”

Unconstitutional Search or Seizure

When conducting a search, seizing evidence, or making an arrest, New Jersey police officers and federal agents must uphold suspects’ constitutional rights. If the police or federal agents violated your constitutional rights by conducting an unlawful search or seizure, then the evidence against you may be inadmissible in your criminal trial.

Mishandling of Evidence in Police Custody

The mishandling of evidence while in police custody can provide a defense in some child pornography cases. For example, if there is no clear and comprehensive chain of custody, or if it is possible that files seized from your home or office were manipulated following the seizure, your New Jersey child pornography lawyer may be able to use that to protect you against a conviction.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations places an outer limit on how long prosecutors have to pursue charges for a crime in New Jersey. Most crimes are subject to a statute of limitations at the federal level as well. If you have been charged with possession, distribution, or production of child pornography and the alleged offense is no longer subject to prosecution, our attorneys can use the statute of limitations to seek a dismissal in court.

Speak with a New Jersey Child Pornography 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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