Remember when our parents warned us about talking to strangers online? Long gone are those days! As adults, about 53% of the population think that dating sites, where you meet strangers online, are “very” or “somewhat” safe.
Do you really know who you’re talking to, though? What happens if you end up in an intimate relationship with a minor? If you’ve exchanged photos or certain text messages, then you could have unknowingly broken child pornography laws in Texas.
Understandably, child pornography laws in Texas are strict, and there are harsh consequences for those convicted. If you or a loved one is currently facing charges, then it’s necessary to get informed about the laws, potential consequences, and how to find a lawyer ASAP. Learn everything you need to know about Texas law and child pornography below.
Defining Child Pornography Laws in Texas
By law, child pornography laws in Texas make it a criminal offense to use, promote, or in any way exploit children who are under the age of 18 into doing (or depicting) any type of sexual act. These laws are generally broken up into two different offenses — the possession of child pornography and the promotion of it.
Possession of child pornography is defined as owning any type of explicit material involving minors. You can be charged with a crime if explicit material is found on your smartphone, computer, email, or other digital devices.
Similar to possession, you can also get charged with distribution of child pornography or possession with the intent to distribute. You can get hit with these charges if police find evidence that you shared explicit material with others or intended to do so. Texas law states that anyone who possesses six or more identical copies of explicit material is assumed to have an intent to distribute it to others.
Promoting child pornography is handled differently. This type of crime is defined as knowingly being involved in the production, photography, filmmaking, distribution, or promotion of child pornography. You can face these types of charges if you created the explicit material, asked for it, paid a minor to perform, or a wide array of other actions.
Consequences of Child Pornography Charges in Texas
Texas is harsh on individuals convicted of child pornography charges. The consequences are steep for all crimes: possession, distribution, and promotion. Here’s an overview of the potential penalties you could face for each crime.
Possession of Child Pornography
Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony in Texas. That means you could be subject to:
- 2- 10 years in state prison
- Fines of up to $10,000
Distribution of Child Pornography
If you’re also charged with possession with the intent to distribute, then you’ll face a second-degree felony. That means:
- Fines of up to $10,000
- 2-20 years in state prison
Felonies are also serious crimes that could impact your future rights. Even after you’ve served your time, convicted felons can’t vote or legally own firearms.
Promotion of Child Pornography
If you’re accused of promoting or creating child pornography, then you’ll face a third-degree felony. The same penalties apply for possession. If your crime involves a minor under the age of 14, though, then you’ll face a second-degree felony.
Do you think those three categories are all you have to worry about if you were found in a compromising position? Think again. On top of these crimes, you could face other related charges like employing a minor, sexual assault, or rape. If convicted, you might also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
Defending Yourself After Getting Charged With Child Pornography
The potential consequences of getting convicted of a child pornography crime in Texas are extreme. There’s also a very good chance that you’ll face additional charges on top of possession alone. If you or a loved one are currently facing child pornography charges, then it’s important to hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
You and your attorney will discuss your situation and determine your best legal options moving forward. Here are some of the most common defense strategies against child pornography charges:
- Unintentional possession
- Accidental possession
- Illegal search and seizure
- Mistake of fact – it’s not child pornography or you weren’t the one possessing it
If the accused suspect is also a minor, then there is a possible defense available to them. If they were dating the minor and the other minor willingly sent the explicit material, then they won’t be charged with a crime. The minors can’t have an age gap bigger than two years, and 18-year-old adults are not considered minors under this legal defense.
How to Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Texas
So, how will you defend yourself against your charges? The defense argument you use will only be effective if it fits in with the evidence authorities have against you, the circumstances of your crime, and everything that happened during your arrest. For those reasons, a lawyer is often recommended because the average citizen often doesn’t have access to the resources to discover these facts alone. Here are a few tips to help you find a good criminal defense lawyer in Texas:
- Research your lawyer online
- Take into account prior reviews and testimonials
- Ensure the lawyer has experience with your specific crimes
- Verify that your lawyer is willing to go to trial if necessary
- Ask your lawyer what his caseload looks like
Are you worried about being able to afford a lawyer? In theory, money should never be a factor when it comes to ensuring justice. Utilize your Constitutional right to a state-funded criminal defense attorney if you’re out of other options.
Texas Law on Child Pornography: What You Need to Know
It seems self-evident that it would be against the law to sexually exploit a minor. Despite that, the internet and technology have created a dark cloud of confusion over what child pornography laws really mean across the nation. In Texas, you can be convicted of possessing child pornography even if you were unaware of the minor’s age when you received or downloaded the material.
With these thoughts in mind, it’s more important than ever to be safe and cautious online. Never exchange sexually charged material with someone you don’t know in real life. Anonymity won’t save you if you end up charged with a crime.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a child pornography charge in Texas, then it’s time to get started on defending yourself right away. Don’t waste time; get in touch with our office now.