What Is Considered Child Pornography?

An arrest or conviction for possession or creation of child pornography (also referred to as Child Sexual Abuse Material, or CSAM) can carry strict penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and fines, and it can tarnish a person’s reputation in the community.

Because this is such a serious crime, it’s crucial to understand pornography laws and how a criminal defense lawyer experienced in these cases can help you if you are facing a child pornography charge.

Defining Child Pornography

What is child pornography? According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), child pornography includes sexually explicit photos, videos, or images of children. This media could include nude or semi-nude images of children or images of children engaged in sexual acts with either another child or an adult.

In this context, “child” refers to anyone under 18 (a legal minor).

Different Types of Offenses

The DOJ issued a Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography. This resource touches on federal laws covering child pornography or sexual exploitation of a minor and the penalties associated with different acts.  

Child pornography offenses include:

  • Possession of, receipt of, or distribution of child pornography materials (18 U.S.C. § 2252)
  • Any sexual exploitation of a minor, including producing CSAM (18 U.S.C. § 2251)
  • Specific activities related to media or materials that contain or constitute child pornography (18 U.S.C. § 2252A)
  • Producing sexually explicit images or other forms of media depicting a minor, with the purpose of exporting it to the U.S. (18 U.S.C. § 2260)

Potential Legal Consequences

Penalties for violating these statutes include mandatory minimum prison sentences, depending on the severity and extent of the offense, and harsh fines, even for a first-time offender. The penalties and mandatory minimum sentences increase for second and subsequent offenses.

Role of Digital Evidence

The internet allows people wishing to obtain or distribute child pornography to do so reasonably quickly and anonymously.

Proving that someone is in possession of digital child pornography can be tricky. Once CSAM is accessed by a computer (or phone or any internet-capable device), the device creates a record of the media. Even if the owner deletes the files, there’s a good chance that law enforcement could still recover them.

Law enforcement agencies use different software to recover deleted files and trace the origins of electronically exchanged CSAM. The results of investigative software can be used as evidence to support a child pornography charge.

The digital evidence of child pornography on someone’s device may be enough to convict them. However, the prosecutor must prove that the individual intentionally accessed the media and legally possessed it.

Contact Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers for More Information

Have you been arrested or charged with crimes involving possible child pornography? Do you need legal help clearing your name and protecting yourself from harsh penalties? We can help. Contact Keith Oliver Criminal Law today for a free, confidential consultation with an experienced child pornography lawyer in New Jersey.

Author: Keith G. Oliver

Founding partner Keith G. Oliver has a passion for helping people who are caught up in the criminal justice system. He believes that everyone has a right to be presumed innocent, and that one mistake shouldn’t define a person forever. This passion drives Mr. Oliver to tirelessly fight for his clients and pursue the best possible outcome in every case.