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Can a Child Be Charged With Possession of Child Pornography?

Juvenile3

This can definitely happen. Let’s face it, this is a truly awful thing to think about. Technology has brought us so many amazing advances in such a short amount of time. But with these advances are also challenging legal issues that our legal system must struggle to answer. For instance, what happens when teenagers do stupid things, like taking nude pictures of themselves? What about so-called “sexting?” With Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and all the other types of social media out there, kids will no doubt be kids. Unfortunately, the stakes are higher now than ever.

Photos and videos create permanent records of youthful indiscretion that can forever mar a child’s future. Thus, the law is taking a very strict stance on these situations.  If your child is accused of creating or possessing child pornography, he or she needs legal representation now. Time is truly of the essence, and you can’t afford to take chances dealing with the police and over-eager prosecutors.

What is Child Pornography? 

Under Maryland’s Criminal Code, Section 11-207, “child pornography” is very broadly defined as any of the following:

  • Causing, inducing, soliciting, or knowingly allowing a minor to be the subject of obscene matter or the performance of sexual conduct
  • Taking pictures or videos to capture images of a minor in a sexual act or in a sexual manner
  • Using a computer to depict a minor in an obscene act or sexual conduct
  • Knowingly promoting, advertising, soliciting, distributing, or just possessing such material with the intent to distribute it to others
  • Using a computer to give our a minor’s name, phone number, address, personal characteristics, or other information for the purpose of sexual conduct with or depiction of the minor in a sexual manner

These are paraphrased for simplicity, but in general, anything that could remotely constitute the depiction of a minor in a sexual way is unlawful if you participate in creating it, buying it, transmitting it, possessing it, etc. Basically, if in doubt, don’t. Of course, most children (teenagers) do not think of other teenagers as being “children.” Therefore, adults need to explain this to them.

What are the Penalties for Child Pornography in Maryland? 

Any violation is a felony. It carries up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine for a first offense. Each subsequent violation can be up to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

How Do They Prove the Victim is a Minor? 

This comes up a lot when younger persons are snapping pictures with people all over the world through social networks. Maryland law says a jury can decide whether the person is a minor by using expert testimony and observation of the individual. In other words, a jury can use their common sense to decide if they think the child is indeed a child.

How Can a Teenager Have Child Pornography? 

Some cases are clear. A 17-year-old with illicit images of an extreme minor would be a pretty clear situation. But this is rare. A much more common example would be a dating couple. A 16-year-old boy and girl are dating in school and trading nude photos through social media. One of them is then sharing them with others, who in turn trade and further share and disseminate the images. Not only is this extremely dangerous and potentially devastating emotionally, it is strictly prohibited under the law. It counts as distributing child pornography. But it must be done knowingly and with intent.

Defending Child Pornography Charges 

If your teenager is charged with a sex crime, child pornography, or similar violations, do not take chances with their future. Call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. and get legal help. Chances are your child had no ill-intent and didn’t even realize it was a crime. There may be strong defenses to avoid prison and life-altering consequences. Do not let your child talk to the police without an attorney present. Do not make a confession, and do not sign anything until you’ve met with an attorney. The stakes are just too high.

Resources:

nytimes.com/2015/11/14/us/prosecutors-in-teenage-sexting-cases-ask-foolishness-or-a-felony.html

mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmStatutesText.aspx?article=gcr&section=11-207&ext=html&session=2017RS&tab=subject5

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