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Child Pornography Laws in Montgomery County and Pennsylvania, in General
Unfortunately, with the steady rise of technology over the past few years, child pornography has spread like wildfire. It can end up in the hands of just about anyone on their computer, smartphone or tablet. Once child pornography has been produced, it is out there and can easily be found online. If a person views content on the Internet or downloads it to one of their devices, they can face severe federal charges that warrant harsh prison sentences and other penalties. A person can even unknowingly and unintentionally violate the laws of child pornography because of the Internet. For example, if a person views a pornographic image of a person they believe is an adult, but that individual turns out to be under the age of 18, there can still be criminal charges placed against the viewer.
The law makes it illegal to film and videotape a sexual act that involves a child younger than 18. This holds even if the sex act is merely simulated and not real. In a court case, the prosecution would have to show that the defendant filmed, videotaped or photographed the sexual act or simulated sex act. It is important to note that it is not required that the prosecution prove that the individual knew the age of the child involved in the act.
In Montgomery County and the rest of Pennsylvania, it is also illegal to disseminate child pornography. The prosecution can make a case against a person who sells, exhibits or distributes any recordings, videos, photos or any other material that shows children younger than 18 engaging in sexual acts or simulated sex acts.
Individuals who are found to voluntarily possess or view child pornography in their home or some other setting in which they have control can be prosecuted for the crime. The prosecution is required to show that the person knowingly kept pornographic content that includes a child or children in their possession and that they knowingly viewed it.
Penalties and Sentences for Child Pornography in Montgomery County
Filming, videotaping or photographing child pornography in Montgomery County and the rest of Pennsylvania is considered a felony in the second degree. This means that a person who is convicted of the crime would face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
If the individual has been found to be distributing child pornography for others to view and possess, their exact sentence and penalties would depend on whether they have any prior convictions for the crime. With a first offense, the defendant would be charged with a felony in the third degree, which carries a prison term of up to five years. With a prior offense and conviction, the person would be charged with a felony in the second degree and receive a prison term of up to 10 years.
Additionally, a person convicted of child pornography is required to register as a sex offender and a sexually violent predator. This is done with the State Board to Assess Sexually Violent Predators.
Possible Defenses to Child Pornography Charges
A criminal defense attorney can use two key defenses in a child pornography case. They include the following:
• The material possessed or brought into the county and state, in general, was done so for a judicial, government, educational or scientific purpose
• The viewing of the pornographic material was accidental or involuntary
No matter what, a charge of child pornography is also extremely serious. A person who faces such charges absolutely requires the assistance of an experienced attorney who can build a solid defense in their case.