Child pornography has become more prevalent since the advent of the internet and the proliferation of cameras. Consequently, law enforcement at both the state and federal levels have begun cracking down on people who possess child pornography. This has created a patchwork of federal and local laws that people are subject to. However, it is still important for people to understand this complex patchwork since the penalties for violating it can be incredibly severe.
Connecticut law on the possession of child pornography criminalizes knowingly possessing some amount of images of child pornography, which is defined as video or images depicting someone under the age of 16 engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The penalties for the crime depend on the amount of images a person has in their possession. Fewer than 20 images is a Class D felony punishable by five years in prison, with a one year mandatory minimum sentence. Possession of between 20 and 50 images is a Class C felony punishable by at most 20 years in prison, with a two year mandatory minimum sentence. More than 50 images brings it up to a Class B felony, and increases the mandatory minimum sentence to five years. However, the state law does make some reductions in severity if the person who possesses the images is a minor because of the prevalence of teenagers with cell phone cameras.
Additionally, the law allows an affirmative defense to child pornography charges. However, this affirmative defense only occurs when three conditions are met. First, the person must possess less than three offending images. Second, the person must not have knowingly attempted to acquire the images. And third, the person must promptly have taken steps to destroy the images or they must report them to the police.
Federal law also has a pair of statutes that punish people for the possession of child pornography. The first is 18 U.S.C. §2252. This section of the code criminalizes production of child pornography, as well as its possession. As a federal statute, it only applies in areas where the federal government has jurisdiction. However, that reach is still quite broad because the federal government has the power to regulate things that affect interstate commerce. Consequently, transmission of images of child pornography over a computer or through the mail brings the crime into federal jurisdiction.
Penalties for these violations of this law can be quite severe. Simple possession of illegal images can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years, along with being required to register as a sex offender. If the pictures depict a minor less than 12 years old, then the sentence increases to a possible 20 years. Additionally, people with prior convictions face a possible maximum sentence of 20 years, with a mandatory minimum of 10.
The federal government also created another law that allows the people depicted in the images to bring civil suits against people who viewed them. This law allows the depicted minors to collect at least $150,000 for their injuries.
Possession of child pornography is a serious charge, and a conviction can alter a person’s life. If you are facing these charges, contact a criminal defense attorney in Hartford today to learn more about your rights. Call Woolf Law Firm, LLC at [[phone1]] to schedule an initial consultation with a skilled lawyer.