Child Pornography Defense Lawyer
Aggressive Criminal Defense Lawyers Represent Clients Accused of Violating Child Pornography Laws in Erie and Western Pennsylvania
Accusations of being involved with child pornography in any way can have a devastating impact on your entire life—your employment can be jeopardized, your physical freedom will be put at risk and your personal relationships may be shattered. Because of the extensive scope of Pennsylvania’s child pornography laws and the prevalence of pornographic materials on the Internet, it is entirely possible that you can be arrested on child pornography charges without even knowing that you have committed a crime.
At Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C., our skilled criminal defense lawyers advocate vigorously on behalf of clients who have been accused of crimes involving child pornography. We understand how precarious your situation is when you have been accused of a crime as stigmatic as child pornography and will work tirelessly to identify every possible available defense strategy in your case. We also know that it can be embarrassing to discuss these charges against you, but stress the fact that every case alleging child pornography can result in a felony conviction that will follow you for the rest of your life.
If you have been arrested or are being investigated for child pornography offenses, call our experienced child pornography lawyers for a confidential consultation to get legal help in your case today.
Legal Rules Governing Child Pornography Offenses in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law, you can be found guilty on child pornography charges if you are found to have committed any of the following acts:
- Photographing, videotaping, selling or distributing images of children under the age of 18 performing sexual acts or simulating what appear to be sexual acts, regardless of the materials involved (i.e., books, magazines, videos).
- Intentionally or knowingly possess or view books, magazines, videos, computer depictions or any other materials that depict children under the age of 18 performing sexual acts or simulating what appear to be sexual acts.
Note that under this regime, it is both illegal to create your own child pornography and to download or view these materials online. Importantly, asserting that you did not know that the child was under the age of 18 is not a defense to child pornography, and it is generally also not a defense that the child said that he or she was older than 18.
Penalties for Child Pornography Offenses in Pennsylvania Carry Serious Consequences
In addition to the basic stigma of being accused of a crime involving child pornography, both the state and federal legal systems impose severe penalties for child pornography. Child pornography may be a federal offense and, under Pennsylvania law, is always a felony offense. The following charges may apply:
- First offense child pornography charges may be a third-degree felony with up to seven years in prison where the charge is viewing the materials,
- Second offense child pornography charges elevate to a second-degree felony with up to ten years in prison where the charge is viewing the materials,
- Distributing or producing child pornography can result in first-degree felony charges carrying up to 20 years in prison, and is often a federal crime with grading dependent upon the circumstances and whether you have any prior convictions.
A conviction for child pornography can also result in lifetime registration requirements as a sex offender in some cases—registration requirements similar to those imposed upon convicted rapists. While judges do have some leeway in their sentencing guidelines under Pennsylvania law, so that they are allowed to consider your prior record and the relative severity of your actions, when it comes to child pornography charges, they are unlikely to impose lesser sentences. Further, some federal charges carry mandatory minimum prison sentences that can result in a minimum five-year prison sentence even if you have never been convicted of a prior crime.
Contact a Hard-Hitting Erie County Child Pornography Defense Lawyer to Discuss Your Case Today
If you have been accused of violating Pennsylvania’s child pornography laws, it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The repercussions of any criminal conviction are serious and lasting, but when your criminal charges involve child pornography, the consequences can be catastrophic both in your personal and professional life.
You can schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced child pornography defense lawyers by calling our office, filling out this secure online contact form or using our online chat feature.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Pornography Laws in Meadville, PA
FAQ: Are there any defenses to accusations that I violated child pornography laws in Pennsylvania?
Yes. While mistakes as to the child’s age do not constitute a defense, the prosecution is required to prove that you knowingly or intentionally viewed the child pornography materials in question. This means that it may be a defense that you accidentally found the materials online, so that the intent element of the crime cannot be satisfied. In other cases, your constitutional rights may have been violated during the investigatory process or the prosecution may be unable to prove all elements of the crime (for example, in cases where someone else may have used your computer). Our experienced lawyers can evaluate whether these or other defense strategies may be a viable option based upon the specific facts of your case.
FAQ: Why is child pornography a federal crime?
In many cases, child pornography is prosecuted as a federal crime. The crime can be federalized because these materials can quickly cross state lines or appear in multiple states when they are published online. Simply possessing or viewing child pornography in a government-owned building can result in a federal charge. Whether the crime will be prosecuted in state or federal court depends upon any number of factors, but crimes that are federal in nature are also punishable at the Pennsylvania state level. Because of this, whether the crime will be prosecuted in federal court may depend upon whether the federal government chooses to pursue the case.