California is in the middle of an aggressive crackdown on sex crimes that target, involve, and/or harm children. This includes crimes involving child pornography. A conviction for a child pornography-related crime can have devastating consequences for you and your family. In addition to time behind bars and steep fines, you could also be required to register as a sex offender. You have the power to fight the charges against you, and criminal defense attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez can help.
As a former prosecutor with over 18 years experience, Mr. Rodriguez has a unique understanding of California criminal law. During his time at the D.A.’s office, he led the Sexual Abuse/Child Abuse unit. He knows how the state will handle your child pornography case and can use this knowledge to your advantage. He will thoroughly investigate your alleged crime, create a custom legal defense, and fight to secure the best possible outcome in your case. His aggressive approach and in-depth understanding of the law often allows him to get the charges against his clients reduced or dismissed. Call The Rodriguez Law Group today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
- 1 What is Child Pornography?
- 2 California Child Pornography Laws
- 3 Mandatory Sex Offender Registration Requirement
- 4 Defending Child Pornography Charges
- 5 Experienced Los Angeles Child Pornography Attorneys
What is Child Pornography?
What exactly is child pornography? Which materials can result in criminal charges? Child pornography includes materials and representations of children under the age of 18 personally engaging in or simulating sexual conduct.Under California law, child pornography can take many shapes and forms, including:
- Video laser discs
- Computer hardware
- Computer software, and
- Computer-generated equipment.
Sexual conduct is very broadly defined. California Penal Code Section 311.4 explains that sexual conduct includes:
- Sexual intercourse
- Oral copulation
- Anal intercourse
- Anal oral copulation
- Sexual sadism
- Sexual masochism
- Penetration of intimate bodily parts by any object in a lewd manner
- Exhibition of intimate bodily parts for the purpose of sexual stimulation, and
- Excretory functions performed in a lewd or lascivious manner.
Sexual conduct includes simulated sexual conduct, which is when an act merely gives the appearance of being sexual conduct.
The bottom line is that child pornography is defined to include a wide range of behaviors and mediums. The conduct that is related to child pornography will dictate which criminal charges you will face.
California Child Pornography Laws
There are actually a handful of California laws that prohibit child pornography. Each of these laws target a specific behavior. Generally speaking, these laws prohibit the creation, distribution, and possession of child pornography. California’s child pornography laws also make it a crime to hire, persuade, or force children to participate in child pornography projects.
Possession of Child Pornography
California Penal Code Section 311.11 PC makes it a crime to knowingly possess or control child pornography. In order to be convicted for possessing child pornography you must:
- Know that the nature of the material that you have in your control; and
- Know that the materials depict individuals under the age of 18.
Some child pornography may depict teenagers who could reasonably pass as adults. If you possess child pornography, but mistakenly believed that the individuals displayed in the materials were adults, you should not be convicted of this crime. Lack of knowledge is a legal defense that can be argued in your case.
Possession of child pornography is a wobbler in California, meaning that the crime can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The specific charge will depend on the number of previous convictions you have.
First Time Offenders: A misdemeanor punishable by one year in a Los Angeles County jail and/or $2,500 in fines or a felony punishable by one year in a California state prison and $2,500 in fines.
Prior Conviction(s): If you have a prior conviction for possession of child pornography you will be charged with a felony, punishable by 2, 4, or 6 years in a California state prison and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
Distributing Child Pornography
California Penal Code Sections 311.1 and 311.2 PC make it a crime to knowingly distribute, exhibit, or exchange child pornography. Behaviors that can result in criminal charges under these sections of the Penal Code include knowingly:
- Sending, bringing, or causing child pornography to enter the state;
- Possessing child pornography;
- Preparing, publishing, or producing child pornography; and
- Developing, duplicating, or printing child pornography.
The severity of the charges for distributing, exhibiting, or exchanging child pornography will depend on whether the materials are obscene, if the materials were intended for commercial distribution, and who your intended recipient is. Many of these charges are classified as wobblers and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor will always be punishable by a maximum penalty of one year in a Los Angeles County jail and $1,000 in fines.
Possessing, Distributing, or Transporting Obscene Child Pornography: Wobbler, with a felony being punishable by 2, 4, or 6 years in a California state prison and $10,000 in fines.
Commercial Distribution of Child Pornography: Felony punishable by 2, 3, or 6 years in a California state prison and $100,000 in fines.
Distributing Child Pornography to Minors: Felony punishable by 16 months, 2, or 3 years in a California state prison and $10,000 in fines.
Distributing Child Pornography to Adults: Wobbler, with a felony punishable by 16 months, 2, or 3 years in a California state prison and $10,000 in fines.
Sexual Exploitation of a Child
California Penal Code 311.3 PC makes it a crime to develop, duplicate, print, or exchange materials that are classified as child pornography. There is no requirement to share the pornographic materials with others. The fact that you’ve exploited a child sexually and documented that exploitation is enough to warrant criminal charges.
First Offense: Wobbler, punishable by one year in a Los Angeles county jail or prison and $2,000 in fines.
Subsequent Offenses: Felony, punishable by 16 months, 2, or 3 years in a California state prison and $10,000 in fines.
Other Child Pornography Crimes
California law not only prohibits the possession, distribution, and creation of child pornography, but also behavior that supports these unlawful acts.
Employing or Using Minors for Child Pornography: California Penal Code Section 311.4 PC makes it a crime to “hire, employ, or use” a minor to engage in sexual conduct for pornographic materials. First-time offenders can face misdemeanor or felony charges, punishable by a year behind bars and $2,000 in fine. Subsequent offenders will face felony charges, punishable by 16 months, 2, or 3 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.
Coercing Behavior for Child Pornography: California Penal Code Section 311.4 PC also makes it a crime to “promote, employ, use, persuade, induce, or coerce” a minor (or their legal guardian) to participate in the creation of child pornography materials. The crime is a felony, punishable by 16 months, 2, or 3 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. However, the charges will be aggravated if the materials are intended for commercial distribution. In this case, you will face 3, 6, or 8 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Advertising Child Pornography: California Penal Code Section 311.10 PC makes it a crime to knowingly advertise child pornography for sale or distribution. The crime is a wobbler, with a felony carrying a maximum penalty of 2, 3, or 4 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Mandatory Sex Offender Registration Requirement
If you are convicted of a child pornography-related crime you will likely be required to register with the state of California as a sex offender. Misdemeanor convictions for possession and distribution will require registration as a Tier One offender. Tier One requires registration as a sex offender for a minimum of 10 years. Felony convictions for possession, distribution, coercion, sexual exploitation, and advertising will require registration as a Tier Three offender. Tier Three requires registration as a sex offender for life.
Defending Child Pornography Charges
When you are charged with a child pornography-related crime in Los Angeles you have the right to defend yourself. A successful defense will generally involve an argument that helps to explain, excuse, and/or justify your alleged behavior. When a defense is argued successfully the prosecution will have a difficult time proving that you are guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This will significantly increase your chances of securing a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you. Defenses that may be helpful in your Los Angeles child pornography case include:
- Lack of required intent;
- Mistake of knowledge;
- False accusations;
- Illegal search and seizure; and
- Unlawful arrest.
The state should not be allowed to benefit from a violation of your rights. If evidence was obtained illegally (through an illegal search, unlawful arrest, or improper questioning) we will immediately file a motion to suppress this tainted evidence. Without this evidence, the prosecution may not be able to prove their case against you.
Experienced Los Angeles Child Pornography Attorneys
Have you been charged with a crime involving child pornography in Los Angeles? Call The Rodriguez Law Group for immediate legal assistance. Our criminal defense attorneys understand that your future is on the line and will aggressively fight to protect your rights. We will thoroughly investigate your alleged crime, make sure that your rights have not been violated, and argue any defense that helps your case. The decisions you make immediately after your arrest will affect your future, so do not hesitate to call us today.