Internet Child Pornography Crimes in New Jersey
Have you been charged with viewing, downloading, distributing, or selling child pornography over the internet? It may feel like everyone just assumes you're guilty, and unfortunately, your fears are probably justified. Not only can a conviction lead to serious criminal penalties, but accusations alone can be enough to turn your life upside-down and ruin your personal and professional reputations forever. That's why it's crucial to seek immediate legal representation if you're under investigation or have been charged with the possession or distribution of online child pornography.
I am Anthony N. Palumbo, a New Jersey Child Pornography Defense Attorney and a partner at the law firm Palumbo & Renaud. With more than 35 years of trial experience as a prosecutor and defense attorney, I can also help you to fight these charges. While each case is unique, I know what the prosecution needs to convict you of internet child pornography and I know what it takes to fight online sex crimes charges successfully. Contact me online or at 1-866-664-8118 for a free and confidential consultation.
What constitutes child pornography?
Child pornography includes photographs, videos, computer programs, or any other material depicting a child for the purpose of sexual stimulation, whether the depiction involves only nudity or whether it shows a child engaging in or simulating a prohibited sexual act. Under New Jersey law, child pornography charges apply whenever the material depicts a child under the age of 16, but federal law is stricter and includes any pornographic material depicting a person under the age of 18.
Child Pornography Charges in New Jersey
In New Jersey, it's considered second degree child endangerment to create child pornography or to knowingly allow a child to engage in the creation of pornographic material, and a conviction carries a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison. The offense is upgraded to a first degree crime, with an increased sentence of 10 to 20 years, if the offender is the child's parent or guardian, or has some other legal responsibility for the child. Distributing child pornography in any manner, including over the internet, is a second degree crime, subject to a sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison, and the possession of child pornography-or even just knowingly viewing it-is a fourth degree crime subject to a sentence of up to 18 months in jail.
Child Pornography Charges Under Federal Law
Internet child pornography charges will almost always implicate both federal and state law. This is because child pornography cases are subject to federal prosecution if the pornographic material was produced in or distributed from another state, and given the complex configuration of the internet, the act of viewing, emailing, or downloading online child pornography usually involves the use of data stored on internet servers located in other states. As a result, federal jurisdiction may apply even if you only viewed internet child pornography while in New Jersey or if the pornographic material was only distributed within the state.
Under federal child pornography laws, a person who creates, distributes, possesses, or views child pornography will be sentenced to at least 5 but no more than 20 years in prison. If the person has a criminal record including certain sex offenses, however, the sentence is increased to at least 15 but no more than 40 years.
Child pornography laws in other states may also apply if the pornographic material was produced in or distributed within those states. This can make internet child pornography cases especially complicated.
Multiple Counts of Child Pornography and Successive Sentencing
Under both New Jersey and federal law, a person who possesses or distributes more than one item of child pornography may be charged with multiple counts, with the sentences for each charge being added together. This can result in very lengthy periods of incarceration, or even sentences of life imprisonment.
Sex Offender Registration
In addition to these penalties, a conviction for internet child pornography will also trigger the sex offender registration and tracking requirements of New Jersey's Megan's Law. Registering as a sex offender can be one of the most difficult parts of a sex crimes conviction because it requires offenders to publicly disclose a variety of personal information. These registration provisions can also continue long after a sex offender is released from prison or even permanently, and the stigma of being a registered sex offender can create serious impediments to employment and housing options.
Defenses to Internet Child Pornography Charges
Child pornography offenses are strict liability crimes, which means that it's not a defense if you didn't know that the material depicted a minor or if you believed that the person in the pornographic material was an adult, even if such a mistaken belief was reasonable. It is a defense, however, if the person depicted in the pornographic material was actually an adult, even if you thought he or she was a minor. Similarly, it's not illegal to possess or distribute virtual child pornography-meaning pornography that uses computer-generated images, drawings, or other representations, but doesn't actually involve any children.
Other legal defenses may also be available to you. If you were caught with child pornography on your computer, for example, the prosecution still has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew about it, and that it wasn't downloaded by a computer virus or someone else with access to the system. Constitutional violations, such as unreasonable searches and seizures prohibited by the Fourth Amendment, can also result in damaging evidence being deemed inadmissible.
Contact Palumbo & Renaud
Prosecutors in New Jersey take an aggressive stance against internet sex offenses, and if you've been charged with an internet child pornography crime, you could be facing serious penalties if you don't have strong legal representation of your own. Don't wait until it's too late to mount an effective legal challenge in your case. To meet with an internet sex crimes lawyer for a free and confidential consultation, contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo at the law firm Palumbo & Renaud at 1-866-664-8118 or through this online form.
Palumbo & Renaud is a criminal defense law firm with offices in Cranford, Elizabeth and Newark. We provide criminal defense services for many other types of criminal charges throughout New Jersey, including Essex County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Ocean County and Union County.