Some of the most serious crimes in the eyes of Harris County prosecutors are those that victimize children.
The possession of child pornography is one such crime with severe penalties for individuals convicted of it. A person accused of possessing child pornography not only faces the criminal justice system, but also the disdain of the public. Further, the reputational harm caused by an allegation of possessing child pornography may not go away, even if the person is found to be not guilty.
Under Texas law, possession of child pornography is committed if a person knowingly or intentionally possesses, or knowingly or intentionally accesses with the intent to view, material that visually depicts a child under the age of 18 at the time the image was made who is engaging in sexual conduct. In addition, the person must know that the material depicts the child as described above.
The definition of sexual conduct is broad. It includes actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviant sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, or the lewd exhibition of the genitals, which includes the female breast.
Visual material is defined as any film, photograph, videotape, negative, or slide or any photographic reproduction that contains or incorporates in any manner any of these. Additionally, it includes any disk, diskette, or other physical medium that allows an image to be displayed on a computer or other video screen and any image transmitted to a computer or video screen by phone line, cable, satellite, or other method.
Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony, with a potential fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence between two and ten years. However, often there are multiple counts that the Government can choose to stack the sentences (add them together).
There are three affirmative defenses to a charge of possession of child pornography. An affirmative defense eliminates liability even though the defendant committed the alleged offense. The affirmative defenses are situations where:
- the defendant was the spouse of the child depicted in the material at the time of the offense;
- the conduct was for a bona fide educational, medical, psychological, psychiatric, judicial, law enforcement, or legislative purpose; or
- the defendant is not more than two years older than the child.
It should be noted that there are other defenses to possession of child pornography. A common defense is having a lack of intent to possess material that constitutes child pornography. Your attorney will discuss with you the available defenses after gaining knowledge of the specific facts of your case.
Promotion of Child Pornography
A related offense is the promotion of child pornography. This is committed when a person knowingly or intentionally promotes or possesses with the intent to promote and knows the material depicts a child under the age of 18. A person who has six or more identical visual depictions of child pornography is presumed to have the intention to promote. Promote is basically the act of providing to others knowing the item is child pornography.
This offense is a second-degree felony, with a potential fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of between two and 20 years.
Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged with possession of child pornography, you face society’s disapproval as well as the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence. At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we have experience in defending individuals against sex crimes charges, including possession of child pornography. We can help you protect your rights and obtain the best possible outcome. Contact us today.