In Pennsylvania it is illegal to possess child pornography. The Possession of child pornography statute can be found in the Pennsylvania crimes code at 18 Pa.C.S. §6312(d) Possession of child pornography. §6312 is entitled “Sexual abuse of children.” Therefore, if you are convicted of possessing child pornography your “rap sheet” will actually read “Sexual abuse of children.”
Possessing child pornography is defined as depicting children under the age of 18 years old engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of a sexual act. Nude photos of minors are considered child pornography if the nudity is depicted for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification. The prosecution may prove that the victim was under the age of 18 by having a qualified expert such as a medical doctor testify that the victim was under the age of 18 by using anatomic principles. Per the statute, mistake as to age is no defense.
Possession of child pornography offense is graded as a felony of the third degree for a first offense. A second or subsequent offense is graded as a felony of the second degree. The prosecution may charge a defendant for each image possessed. For many defendants they will be facing hundreds, even thousands of felony counts.
Typically, suspects are caught possessing child pornography through file sharing internet sites or chat rooms. Once law enforcement officials suspect the possession of child porn, they will obtain a search warrant for the suspect’s personal computer. A forensic computer expert will search the hard drive for the images. If child pornography is found, the expert will make a forensic copy of the suspect’s hard drive for use in court proceedings.
If you are convicted of possessing child pornography you will subject to a 10 year Megan’s Law registration. For a second or subsequent offense you will be subject to a lifetime registration.
If charged with Possession of child pornography you will need a lawyer that has experience working with these cases. As a former Assistant District Attorney, I worked closely with detectives and forensic computer experts in complex child pornography cases.
Contact Jason R. Antoine, Pennsylvania Child Pornography Defense Attorney to schedule a free consultation if you or someone you know has been charged with Possession of Child Pornography.