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Child Pornography Charges: Legal Defenses and Consequences

By San Diego Attorney on October 10, 2023

A man in handcuffs holding his hands together.

Child pornography charges are among the most serious offenses you could face. Understanding the legal landscape and the potential defenses is crucial if you are charged with a child pornography crime.

Child Pornography Under the California Penal Code

California Penal Code Section 311.1 makes it a crime for anyone to knowingly distribute or possess any material that shows a person under 18 years old engaging in or pretending to engage in sexual acts. If convicted, the penalties can range from one year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000 to ten years in state prison, and fines up to $10,000. There are exceptions for law enforcement, medical, scientific, and educational activities, as well as for legally emancipated minors or lawful activities between spouses.

Furthermore, California Penal Code Section 288 aims to protect minors from lewd or lascivious acts and imposes severe penalties on those who violate it, emphasizing the seriousness of such offenses. This law addresses serious crimes involving sexual acts with children under 14.

Legal Defenses for Child Pornography Charges in San Diego

When facing child pornography charges in San Diego, several potential legal defenses may be effective in clearing your name. Some of the various ways to defend against child pornography charges include:

  • Illegal search and seizure: If evidence was seized illegally or without a proper warrant, it may be inadmissible in court. Police procedural errors can violate your Fourth Amendment rights.
  • Entrapment: Claiming entrapment asserts that police induced you to commit a child pornography offense you would not have otherwise committed.
  • Not child porn: If the content does not meet the legal definition of child pornography under California’s obscenity laws, especially regarding the age of individuals involved or if it serves a legitimate purpose, it may not be considered child pornography.
  • Unintentional possession: You may argue that you did not intend to have child pornography in your possession and were unaware of its existence. This defense may apply when material is found on a shared computer, unsecured network, or pre-owned computer.
  • Psychological addiction: Claiming psychological addiction to child pornography will not result in an acquittal of child pornography charges but can sometimes lead to alternative sentences, such as treatment programs rather than imprisonment if convicted.

Consequences of Child Pornography Convictions

Child pornography convictions come with dramatically negative consequences, including imprisonment and lifelong repercussions due to your criminal record. It is essential to understand these consequences fully:

  • Criminal penalties: As mentioned above, child pornography offenses are taken very seriously by the legal system. If convicted, you could face imprisonment in either the county jail for up to one year or the state prison for a more extended period, depending on the severity of the offense. Fines can range from up to $1,000 to as much as $10,000. The severity of the punishment often depends on factors such as the nature of the material involved, the number of violations, and prior criminal history.
  • Registration as a sex offender: A conviction for child pornography leads to sex offender registration under California law, with long-lasting effects on living and working arrangements. Registered sex offenders are stigmatized and face restrictions in daily life.
  • Loss of personal and professional reputation: A child pornography conviction can result in the loss of personal relationships, reputation, and professional standing after such a conviction becomes public knowledge.
  • Employment: A child pornography conviction can make it challenging to secure certain jobs, especially those involving positions of trust or working with vulnerable populations, such as children.
  • Housing: It can be difficult to find suitable housing, as landlords may be reluctant to rent to individuals with such a conviction.
  • Legal rights: Convicted individuals may lose certain legal rights, such as the right to possess firearms or the right to vote, depending on the specific circumstances of the conviction and applicable state laws.

The Criminal Defense Team You Need

If you or someone you know is facing child pornography charges, it is imperative to seek legal counsel and speak with a San Diego sex crime defense lawyer immediately. The right attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, our San Diego legal team understands the gravity of these charges and is committed to developing the strongest possible defense. We have English and Spanish-speaking staff ready to assist you.

Call us today at (760) 630-2000 to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

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