Child Pornography: Introduction
Widespread use of the internet, together with easy ability to copy, upload, and download computer images, have facilitated reproduction and circulation of materials deemed to be pornographic. Child pornography cases pose special technical and legal challenges. These challenges arise because the government's evidence is often based on internet communications and computer searches. Effective defense requires the necessary computer expertise to test the reliability of the government's evidence. The child pornography defense lawyer must be able to examine the government's investigative methods and challenge its legal deficiencies. The case outcome can often depend on these steps.
Penalties for “child porn” approach those of armed robbery, kidnapping, and even murder. Persons convicted of child pornography, whether under New Jersey or federal law, are subject to “Megan's Law.” This requires that they register with the police, with community notification. They must reregister periodically, or when they change their address. Another consequence of conviction is to be placed on parole supervision for life.
Child Pornography: New Jersey Provisions
Child pornography is occasionally referred to as “child porn,” or “kiddie porn.” New Jersey laws relating to child pornography are contained in that section of the Code of Criminal Justice relating to endangering the welfare of a minor. These New Jersey laws are collected in N.J.S. 2C:24-4b. Preliminarily, New Jersey defines “child” to mean any person under age sixteen.
New Jersey makes it a second degree crime to cause or allow a child to be photographed or filmed in a prohibited sexual act. “Prohibited sexual act” is defined to include sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, masturbation, bestiality, sadism, masochism, fellatio, and cunnilingus. It additionally includes nudity when depicted for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification of any person who may view it. When the person doing the causing or allowing is the parent of the child, the activity is elevated to a first degree crime. The photographing is itself a second degree crime. Distributing such photography, or receiving it for purposes of distribution, is also a second degree crime. Possessing the photography, or viewing it, is a fourth degree crime.
Child Pornography: Federal Provisions
Federal criminal statutes also prohibit activities of this nature. Three principal statutes are 18 U.S.C. §1466A, 18 U.S.C. §2251, and 18 U.S.C. §2252.
18 U.S.C. §1466A prohibits production, distribution, receipt, or possession with intent to distribute any visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is obscene. Types of conduct encompassed in this statute include graphic bestiality, sadistic or masochistic abuse, and sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, and anal-oral intercourse. Visual depictions include drawings, sculptures, paintings, and cartoons. Excluded, however, are such materials when those materials have “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” Interestingly, Title 18 of the United States Code never defines who is a “minor”. Only one published decision discusses that issue. That decision specifies that “minor” means anyone who has not yet reached the age of eighteen. Note that to obtain a conviction, the government is not required to prove that the minor depicted actually exists.
The activities just specified are unlawful only when one or more associated conditions exist. These associated conditions are that a communication involved in or in furtherance of the activity occurs through the mail, or in interstate or foreign commerce; or that the offense occurs within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or in any territory or possession of the United States.
18 U.S.C. §2251prohibits employment of children in connection with production of the visual depictions described above. Verbs used in that section include employ, use, persuade, induce, entice, and coerce. As with 18 U.S.C. §1466A, one or more of the special conditions required there are also required to constitute an 18 U.S.C. §2251 offense. And, as with N.J.S. 2C:24-4b in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, special punishments are specified when the offender is a parent, guardian, or other person with legal responsibility for the minor. And 18 U.S.C. §2252 criminalizes distribution, transportation, receipt, possession, or access with intent to view the materials described above.
Child Pornography: Criminal Defense Lawyers in New Jersey™
The descriptions above are highly abstracted summaries of the statutes described. The statutes themselves contain complexities upon complexities. Sentence structure is convoluted. Special discovery rules exist that apply to no other type of criminal charge in New Jersey and, for that matter, in no other type of New Jersey case. Persons lacking legal training cannot begin to appreciate what is involved in handling charges arising from these statutes.
Criminal Lawyers in New Jersey have over sixty-five years of combined experience defending charges of this nature. They appear both in New Jersey and federal courts. Allan Marain was a systems and applications programmer for over ten years. Mr. Epting, as a staff attorney for the Office of the Public Defender, has successfully handled numerous sex-related matters. Both are available to provide a no-charge no-obligation initial conference for persons faced with criminal charges of this nature.
Whether with them or someone else, it is vital that persons facing charges of this nature speak with an experienced New Jersey or federal criminal defense lawyer as soon as they learn that charges are contemplated, or may exist. They should speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer before speaking with the police, or with anyone else. Their entire future may depend on it.
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