Penalties for Child Internet Pornography in NJ

By Anthony Palumbo of Palumbo & Renaud - Cranford, NJ
Article provided by Anthony N. Palumbo, Criminal Defense Attorney

Ever since the onset of the internet, there has been a rising sea of issues with respect to child pornography and crimes against children. The privacy offered by the internet has made it easy for people to quietly view child pornography. Child pornography can be purchased or sold on the internet and the internet provides a forum where adults can meet young children in private and arrange a meeting for a sexual encounter. All too often, the child is unaware that the person whom they are speaking to is an adult. It is common for sex predators to pretend to be children in order to lure young children to meet them.

Both federal and state police have made increasing efforts to safeguard children from internet predators and prevent individuals from obtaining child pornography online. One of the more common ways to do this is through sting operations in which authorities go online undercover as sellers of child pornography. On a similar note, other sting operations, police often pretend to be children in order to attract sex offenders who are looking to lure someone underage. Penalties of possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography and luring are very stern and often include time spent in jail, heavy fines, and the most debilitating of the penalties, public registration as a sex offender for life.

Penalties for Possession of Child Pornography

Possession of child pornography is a fourth degree crime and if convicted, a person may be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison and pay up to $10,000 in fines. In order to be convicted of possession of child pornography, you must knowingly possess or look at an image, film or photograph that shows a child in a prohibited sexual act or simulated act, including Internet viewing.

Penalties for Distribution of Child Pornography

Distribution of child pornography is a second degree crime and if convicted, a person may be sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison and pay up to $250,000 in fines. In order to be convicted of distribution of child pornography, it must be proved a person received for the purpose of selling or knowingly sell, procure, manufacture, give, provide, lend, trade, mail, deliver, transfer, publish, distribute, circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, advertise, offer or agree to offer, through any means, including the Internet:

  • Any photograph, film, videotape, computer program or file, video game or any other reproduction or reconstruction
  • Showing a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act

Public Sex Offender Registration

In New Jersey, Megan's law sex offender registry requires convicted sex offenders to provide information to the local community about what they look like, where they live, and their past crimes so the community can be aware of their presence. Megan's law applies to almost every crime that has sexual a nature including endangering the welfare a child through any kind of media that portrays a child in a prohibited sexual act (child porn).

When a person has been convicted of a Megan's law crime, they will be subjected to a notification system. Under the system, people are grouped into tiers based on the severity of the crime. The tiers determine how much information an offender must provide and who gets to see it. The notification system applies to all Megan's law sex offenders in New Jersey. If a person is convicted out of state, they must register within 10 days of moving to New Jersey, and must register even if just attending school or working in New Jersey.

In New Jersey, a defendant convicted of a sex offense must remain on the Megan's law sex offender registry for 15 years (unless subject to lifetime registration). When 15 years has expired, the sex offender can request a termination of the obligation to register. It must be shown that the offender is no longer a threat to the community and has not been convicted of a subsequent sex crime. More information on child pornography.