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What Is Considered Child Pornography

Child pornography penalties are usually severe, depending on the circumstances and the defendant’s criminal history. But what is considered child pornography? Contact The Waltman Firm to get the answers you need.

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Child Pornography – What is it?

The social stigma attached to being charged with child pornography can have life-changing consequences for the defendant and their family.

The internet has made access to pornography, including child pornography, exceptionally easy for everyone.

Possession of child pornography is a serious crime punishable under state and federal law.

Possession of child pornography is a sex crime that involves owning or consuming any depictions of a minor or parts of a minor’s body engaging in sexual or sexually related conduct. Production, distribution, or possession with intent to sell or distribute child pornography materials are also crimes punishable under Georgia and federal laws.

If you or a loved one has been charged with possession or distribution of child pornography, it is a good idea to consult with a child pornography attorney as soon as possible. If found guilty, the punishment is harsh, even under state laws. It’s important to choose your lawyer carefully, making sure that they not only have experience in defending child pornography cases but also have an excellent track record of success in that area.

If you are facing sex charges in Georgia, consider consulting Marietta sexual assault & rape charges defense attorneys to help you understand your defense options.

This article explains the legal definition of child pornography, federal and state penalties, and possible defenses against it.

The Legal Definition of Child Pornography in Georgia

Child pornography is the creation, possession, distribution, or consumption of images, videos, or other visual depictions of sexually explicit conduct involving children under the age of 18.

Georgia Code § 16-12-100 defines child pornography as any visual depiction of a minor or parts of a minor’s body engaging in sexually explicit conduct, such as sexual intercourse, masturbation, or the exhibition of the genitals for sexual purposes.

It is a felony to employ, persuade, or coerce a minor to engage or assist in producing child pornography as it is to knowingly own, sell, advertise, or exchange all visual depictions of child sexual exploitation. Child pornography material can include photographs, videos, films, or computer-generated images.

The word “knowingly” is crucial in this context. To be convicted of a sexual crime involving child pornography material, the prosecution needs to show that the accused intended to possess, distribute or receive material that constitutes child pornography.

The Element of Intent

The accused must have had knowledge of the offensive material and the intent to possess it.

Since it is fairly easy to mistakenly download child pornographic material from the internet onto your computer, it is sometimes difficult for prosecutors to prove that you had the necessary knowledge or intent.

It is not sufficient to prove that the illegal material was physically present. The prosecution must prove that the accused knew the material was there and intended to download and possess it. 

Intent can often be imputed if there are hundreds of images of illegal child pornography already on someone’s computer or search history. However, the intent is much more difficult to prove when there are only a few illegal images. The user may have even deleted accidental downloads, yet the images remain on the computer either as a thumbnail image or in the deleted items folder.

The intent is less evident if one can prove that the files were immediately deleted, which could potentially be proved by computer forensic experts.

The intent element may only be viable in cases of child pornography possession. In other cases, such as engaging in or producing materials of sexual exploitation of children, the intent is often present and evident.

The lack of intent may be a strong defense if you have never been convicted for child pornography or other sex crimes. If you’re facing charges of child pornography as a first-time offender, a skilled first offense attorney may be able to convince the prosecution to drop or reduce the charges.

State and Federal Penalties for Child Pornography Crimes

Child pornography offenses have severe consequences under state and federal laws and may be prosecuted in federal and state courts.

Even first-time offenders can face 15 to 30 years of imprisonment and fines up to $250,000 for initial offenses under federal child pornography laws. They may also face an extended period in supervised sex offender release programs. Repeated offenses may result in a sentence of up to 40 years in federal prison. In addition, defendants charged with possessing child pornography have to register in a sex offender database.

In Georgia, child pornography crimes, except in some instances, are punishable by five to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000. Convicted offenders will also lose all property used to produce or distribute child pornography materials as well as any profits they may have generated.

Moreover, child pornography offenders are not eligible for sentence reductions or criminal record expungement under Georgia’s First Offenders Act.

When the offender is a family member of the minor, they may face the same sentence, but the fine is waived.

If you are facing child pornography charges as a parent or a guardian of the concerned minor, our child abuse & neglect defense lawyer at Waltman Firm can help.

Possible Defenses Against Child Pornography Charges

Potential defenses against child pornography accusations may include the following:

Lack of Knowledge or Intent

Since intent is required for crimes related to child pornography, a possible defense is that the accused had no knowledge or mistakenly downloaded the material.

It is possible that the accused was downloading legal adult pornography and inadvertently downloaded some content that contained minors.

It Wasn’t Me

Another defense is that the images were downloaded without the accused’s consent or knowledge by someone else. This scenario is possible in a work environment where computers are on a network and shared.

Lack of Probable Cause

Probable cause requires law enforcement officers to have sufficient evidence or information to believe that a crime has been committed or is being committed and that the search will likely produce evidence of the crime. The officer must have had a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed and that the person or property in question is connected to that crime.

If a defendant can show that the police had no probable cause or that they searched and seized property or computers without a search warrant, none of the evidence produced can be used in court to obtain a conviction.

Images for Art or Education Purposes

Artistic depictions or renderings that have literary, artistic, political, or scientific value are exempt from being classified as child pornographic images.

A good example of this is biological drawings of a child’s anatomy in a textbook would not qualify as child pornography images.


How the Waltman Firm Can Help You

If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime in Georgia, consider coming to the Waltman Firm for sound legal advice and bold, empathetic legal representation.

We can help you pursue alternative sentencing options if you’re facing low-level criminal charges. Our team of attorneys is well-versed in the nuances of sex crimes and other offenses.

The Waltman Firm is a boutique service law firm with strong Atlanta connections and networks. Contact us today if you are facing child pornography crimes. We can help!