Articles Tagged with child pornography

The vast majority of people in the United States have and use their smartphones for many things including making calls, taking pictures, and sending texts. In fact, it is estimated that 300 million Americans have a smartphone. What that means is that as high as 90% of the entire United States population has a smartphone at their disposal.

The ability to connect with each other is incredibly easy due to the widespread presence of these multifunctional handheld devices. This is typically a good thing, but in some cases, the ease at which one can circulate virtually any type of information could also be highly problematic. This is especially so if what is being sent out is sexually explicit.

Is it Unlawful to Sext?

If you have sent a text that had a video or a picture that was sexual in nature, then you have sexted. In the state of California, there are no laws on the books that prevent people from sexting. There is nothing criminal about two consenting adults sending each other sexual texts. But, in other circumstances, what is texted out from your phone could lead to some type of sexual offense charge.

For example, if you have been sending sexual texts to a minor that can come with serious legal implications. People that are sending inappropriate, sexual texts to minors can face punishment under California’s child pornography laws. There is no tolerance for this type of activity in the state. It is illegal to send any of the following:

  • Sexual matter to a minor that is meant to motivate the child to respond by engaging in sexual acts.
  • Sending anything that is considered child pornography to anyone. Any media that shows a person who is under the age of 18 doing sexual acts is child pornography.
  • Knowingly be in possession of lewd and pornographic matters that involve children.

It is possible that your sexting can be a reason for your arrest and charges of either a felony or misdemeanor crimes. If you are charged at the misdemeanor level, then you could face up to a year in jail, hefty fines as high as $1,000, and informal probation. Felonies have much harsher penalties. Felonies can result in jail time up to five years, potentially a $10,000 fine, and formal probation.

It is not just fines and jail time that a conviction carries. Also, people that are charged with certain sex crimes will be required to become registered sex offenders. Once you are deemed a registered sex offender, as long as you reside in California you will have to keep this registration current. In other words, every year you will have to register. Continue reading

Three teenage friends, two girls and one boy, regularly shared videos by group text message to each other on their mobile devices. Through the bond of their friendship, there was an unspoken assumption that whatever was shared among them would remain private. There was an element to their video sharing practice of trying to outdo each other with each video posted and shared. This assumption was put to the test when one sensitive video did not stay among them.

The 16-year-old maker and sender of the video made a sexually explicit video of herself and sent it to the other teens on the group chat chain. The male teen, 17 at the time, shared a copy of the video with his school resource officer from the county sheriff’s office. The other female teen, who was 16 at the time, shared the video with other students. Before long, the video was widely distributed throughout the school. The maker of the video remained home from school for 30 days unwilling to return to school because of the backlash she was experiencing from the other students.

The only person charged with a crime for this incident, in juvenile court, was the 16-year-old maker and sender of the video. Possession and distribution of child pornography is a crime in the teen’s jurisdiction, the State of Maryland. It is also a crime in California.

Self-produced child pornography is a touchy subject. While on the one hand, the teen in this case was immature and an argument can be made that she did not appreciate the consequences of making a sexually explicit video of herself, she consented to sharing the video with her friends because she made the post herself and released it to them. She did not, however, consent to its release to the entire student body. On the other hand, child pornography is the trade of videos and photographs which depict children engaging in sexual acts. Outside of the school, this video may be on someone else’s electronic device and as such, it is being used to exploit children. The only way to combat its use is by banning possession of it strictly, as would be the case in almost all U.S. states.   Continue reading

Russell Taylor, the man who was accused of being Jared Fogle’s accomplice in a child pornography ring, was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, on December 10, 2015. Mr. Taylor is convicted of producing and distributing child pornography, specifically to Jared Fogle, the former Subway spokesperson. He used hidden cameras to photograph children as young as age nine in sexually explicit acts.

Mr. Taylor’s sentence was eight years less than what prosecutors sought for 12 counts of producing child pornography and one count of distributing it. However, it was more than the 15 to 23 years that Taylor’s attorneys requested. The judge rejected Taylor’s argument that he was just Fogle’s pawn, but recognized that he cooperated with authorities in Fogle’s prosecution. She noted that Taylor did not deserve to spend more time in prison than Fogle, who faces up to 50 years. It is reported that 12 victims are involved in the child porn production case, many of whom are Taylor’s own nieces and nephews.

What is a Criminal Accomplice?

A criminal accomplice is generally defined as someone who “knowingly, voluntarily, or intentionally gives assistance to another in (or in some cases fails to prevent another from) the commission of a crime.”

Under California law, criminal accomplice liability is also known as ‘aiding and abetting.’ CA Penal Code § 30-33 allows for the prosecution for anyone who encourages, facilitates, or aids in the commission of a crime, no matter how insignificant his or her role was. Presence at the crime scene is not required, and the involvement can be as simple as drawing the perpetrators a map or supplying the weapons used.

Aiding and abetting during the crime is known as an ‘accessory before the fact.’ There is no legal distinction between being an accessory or an actual perpetrator when it comes to sentencing.  The penalties for being a criminal accomplice depend on the crime that was committed.

Legal Defenses

Typical legal defenses for aiding and abetting include:

  • You were falsely accused;
  • You withdrew from the participation before the crime in question was committed;
  • You were merely present at the scene, and did not actually aid or encourage the crime;
  • You only facilitated the crime after its commission (which allows for lesser penalties).

Mere knowledge about the crime that is about to be commissioned is not enough to warrant a conviction for aiding and abetting. However, you must show you took steps to try to prevent the crime. Continue reading

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