Child Pornography

Child pornography is among the most highly stigmatized crimes on the books, and a conviction can devastate every area of your life, causing irreversible damage to your career prospects, social life, and reputation long after any term of incarceration has ended. Aside from very steep fines, extended time in jail or prison, and mandatory registration in California’s public sex offender database, many of the consequences of a child pornography conviction are indirect. Such consequences may include the loss of intimate and family relationships and the inability to find housing and work.

Because California’s child pornography laws are broad, and because of the nature of current internet technology, innocent people who clicked the wrong link or thought they were viewing adult performers can still be charged. Even for people who knew that what they were doing was wrong, research shows that many offenders never re-offended and that viewing child pornography can be successfully treated as a form of sex addiction. There is hope, but it is critical to consult with an experienced sex crimes defense attorney immediately to minimize the impact these charges can have on your life.


Criminal Defense Lawyer for Child Pornography in Ventura, CA

Jay Leiderman Law has handled a wide variety of criminal cases from shoplifting to homicide, including many sex crimes, and is a prominent forerunner in the field of California marijuana law and complex interstate cases of computer fraud. He attained certification as a specialist in Criminal Law through the California Bar Association, something less than 1% of attorneys in the state can claim.

A child pornography conviction can destroy your reputation and relationships, not to mention land you in prison and cost you a fortune. The prospect of being labelled a sex offender is no doubt very frightening, but an aggressive criminal defense attorney like Jay Leiderman can guide you every step of the way and fight hard for your best interests. Timing can be crucial – often the earlier you retain a competent attorney the better the overall outcome you can expect. Don’t delay, call Jay Leiderman Law at (805) 654-0200 now for a free, confidential consultation.


Overview of Child Pornography Law in California


What is Considered Child Pornography?

Possession and distribution of child pornography are criminalized by various subsections of Penal Code 311 PC. Child pornography covers a broad range of photographic and digital media containing sexual depictions of minors, for example pictures, videos, and computer files.

Notably, the image, film, or file must depict real people under 18 – cartoons and drawings are not covered under Penal Code 311 PC. In addition, Section 311 does not apply to depictions of legally emancipated minors and consenting married couples, even if one or more partners is under the age of 18.


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Types of Child Pornography Offenses

It is illegal under 311 to possess, send, share, sell, make, copy, or advertise “obscene matter” with the knowledge that it depicts someone under 18 participating in or simulating sexual conduct. “Sexual conduct” includes everything from penetrative intercourse, to masturbation, to nudity of the genitals for the purpose of sexual stimulation. The sex does not have to be real – mere simulation is enough.

Different subsections of Penal Code 311 PC prohibit various kinds of child pornography offenses, including:

  • Knowingly possessing, producing, or sending child pornography with the intent to distribute it (311.1 PC and 311.2 PC)
  • Developing, duplicating, printing, or exchanging child pornography (311.3 PC)
  • Hiring, employing, or using a minor to produce child pornography (311.4 PC)
  • Advertising child pornography for sale or distribution (311.10 PC)
  • Simple possession or control of child pornography (311.11 PC)

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Fines and Jail Time for Child Pornography

Typically, offenses under Penal Code 311 PC are “wobblers”, meaning they can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors at the prosecutor’s discretion. District attorneys will usually consider the particular facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal background in determining how to charge a Section 311 offense.

Misdemeanor penalties carry a sentence in county jail of up to one year, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. Felony penalties range from 16 months to 8 years in state prison and a fine of up to $100,000.


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Sex Offender Registry Requirements

In addition to the fines and jail time, anyone convicted of a child pornography crime will be required to register in California’s sex offender database, possibly for life. This will mean that your name, crime, and address are public information, and you will be required to regularly renew and update authorities if you move. Failure to do so can result in separate charges.

Simple possession of child porn usually results in a “tier one” designation, meaning that you are required to register for a minimum of 10 years. Other Section 311 offenses are usually “tier three”, requiring registration for life.


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Federal Charges for Child Pornography

If your child pornography charge affected interstate or foreign commerce, you can be charged under the equivalent federal laws found in 18 U.S.C. Secs. 2251, 2251A, 2252, 2252A, 2256, or 2260. Interstate or foreign commerce will almost always be involved for child pornography on the internet, since telecommunications by nature tend to cross state lines. Using the US mail system to distribute child pornography could also qualify.

Federal offenses are investigated by federal agencies like the FBI instead of local law enforcement and tried in their own federal courts by federal prosecutors. Federal punishment provisions are far more severe than their state equivalents and include long statutory minimum sentences.

For example, if convicted of transporting child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce (Sec. 2252), the sentencing range is 5-20 years in federal prison. A Sec. 2251 violation for producing child pornography has a range of 15-30 years. If certain aggravating circumstances are met, such as if the images depict violence or abuse or if the defendant has already offended previously, life imprisonment is possible.

Federal crimes can only be defended by an attorney certified to appear in federal court. If you are facing a federal charge for child pornography, it is essential that you consult with a lawyer who has the experience and specialization necessary to handle these complex cases.


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Additional Resources

California Megan’s Law Website The sex offender registry is located here, which can be searched by the public. Searches can be conducted based an offender’s name, address, county, zip code, etc., and a map with all offender locations is also browsable. You can visit this site to learn about the registration requirements for sex offenders.

United States Department of Justice, National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction – This federal document provides information about national law enforcement efforts to stop child exploitation, including child pornography. Since we know that child pornography is often charged as a federal crime, this page can give some insight about these cases. It is also useful because it provides background information on the scope of the problem in general.


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Ventura Child Pornography Defense Attorney

During this difficult time, you need an experienced, knowledgeable attorney to be by your side during the entire criminal process and help fight for a satisfactory outcome. Headquartered in Ventura, Jay Leiderman Law has defended people across Ventura County against all manner of criminal charges, from minor misdemeanors to the most serious felonies on the books. Jay Leiderman is licensed in both state and federal court and can assist you regardless of the type of child pornography charge you are facing.

We work with clients in all ten Ventura County cities, including Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, Moorpark, Ojai, Camarillo, Fillmore, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, and Ventura itself. Don’t hesitate – retaining a good lawyer early on can mean all the difference. Call Jay Leiderman Law at (805) 654-0200 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation and together we can build an effective defense tailored to your specific needs. Don’t let a child pornography conviction follow you for life.


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