Child pornography is anything that shows a minor (a person under 18 years of age) engaging in sexually explicit conduct. It can take the form of a photo, a movie, or even a computer-generated image.  "Sexually explicit conduct" is not limited to just sexual intercourse, but can involve any kind of sexual act that would be inappropriate to show a minor engaging in.

What Are Illegal Uses of Child Pornography?

The best rule of thumb is if it involves child pornography at all, it probably is illegal. While every state has laws regarding child pornography, some of its uses are considered a federal crime as well:

  • Mailing child pornography across state borders (including e-mail)
  • Knowingly receiving child pornography
  • Knowingly selling or giving out child pornography
  • Advertising child pornography through mail across state borders (including e-mail)

What is the Penalty for These Uses of Child Pornography?

Violating a federal law concerning child pornography can result in a fine and a maximum prison sentence of 20 or 40 years, depending on the circumstances of the crime. Each state has their own penalties for violating their own child pornography laws, but like the federal laws, it typically involves a fine and/or a prison sentence.

If I Am the Victim of Child Pornography, Can I Also Sue in a Civil Court?

Yes, a minor depicted in child pornography can sue a distributor to stop the distributor from selling or giving away the material. The minor can also sue for financial damages, including punitive damages, as well as the cost to the minor for bringing the lawsuit.

If I Have Been Accused of Possessing or Distributing Child Pornography, Do I Have Any Defenses?

  • Distribution: There is a valid defense if it can be proved no one in the in the sexually explicit material is a minor
  • Possession: If any child pornography comes into your hands, the best thing to do is destroy in immediately and report it to the police - DO NOT show it to others, even if you only have good intentions

I Have Been Charged with a Child Pornography Crime. Do I Need a Lawyer?

A criminal defense lawyer can be vital to mounting a successful defense against child pornography charges. A criminal defense attorney knows the law in your state and can help you defend yourself.