Obscenities are not protected free speech under the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court made that clear in 1957. What has remained less clear since then is just what can be considered obscene and thus illegal.
According to that 1957 decision, the court said something could be declared obscene if a finder of fact, applying contemporary community standards as understood by the average person, determines the material as a whole appeals to prurient interest. When it comes to whether child pornography fits the obscene category in New Jersey, there is no doubt.
Authorities know this and dedicate a lot of resources to enforce laws against alleged sex crimes involving minors. If you create the material, you surely can expect to feel the full force of state and possibly federal law. However, New Jersey law also makes it illegal to distribute, receive, or just possess such material.
Nor does the material have to show a child in a sex act. Merely possessing pictures, videos or computer programs featuring minors in the nude can lead to charges. State law considers anyone 16 or younger a minor. Federal law recognizes anyone 18 or younger to be a minor.
The penalties for a conviction of engaging in child pornography are severe. It will be treated as an indictable offense and a first-time offender could face a prison sentence of at least five years. Repeat offenses boost the time of incarceration. Fines may be imposed. You will have a criminal record and even after your sentence is complete, you could be on the sex offender registry for the rest of your life.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys know that the verifiable age of the person depicted in the images is crucial. If it can be shown that the person is actually an adult, that can be a defense. It may be possible to employ other strategies to present a viable defense. For strong representation, consult a skilled attorney.