While all criminal charges are serious, not many are taken more seriously by the Maryland authorities than the possession of child pornography. Those who possess child pornography not only face extremely harsh penalties for their actions, but the stigma that comes with being convicted of such a crime will also follow them for the rest of their lives. Like with other serious sex crimes, they face the possibility of being required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law for many years.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our experienced Maryland child pornography defense lawyers know how stressful and traumatic being accused of such a crime can be. We are here to guide you through the process and bring your case to the best possible resolution. For a free consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.
Types of Child Pornography Crimes in Maryland
Child pornography is the visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. In the state of Maryland, there are two separate crimes that involve child pornography: the possession of child pornography, and the production, distribution, or possession with the intent to distribute child pornography. Below, we explain each of the two charges.
Production, Distribution, or Possession with the Intent to Distribute Child Pornography
Under Maryland Criminal Law 11-207, a person may not:
- Cause, induce, solicit, or knowingly allow a minor to engage as a subject in the production of obscene matter or a visual representation or performance that depicts a minor engaged as a subject in sadomasochistic abuse or sexual conduct
- Photograph or film a minor engaging in an obscene act, sadomasochistic abuse, or sexual conduct
- Use a computer to depict or describe a minor engaging in an obscene act, sadomasochistic abuse, or sexual conduct
- Knowingly promote, advertise, solicit, distribute, or possess with the intent to distribute any matter, visual representation, or performance that depicts a minor engaged as a subject in sadomasochistic abuse or sexual conduct
- Depict a minor in a manner that reflects the belief, or that is intended to cause another to believe, that the matter, visual representation, or performance depicts a minor engaged as a subject of sadomasochistic abuse or sexual conduct
- Use a computer to knowingly compile, enter, transmit, make, print, publish, reproduce, cause, allow, buy, sell, receive, exchange, or disseminate any notice, statement, advertisement, or minor’s name, telephone number, place of residence, physical characteristics, or other descriptive or identifying information for the purpose of engaging in, facilitating, encouraging, offering, or soliciting unlawful sadomasochistic abuse or sexual conduct of or with a minor
Any violation of one of these six sections of the code is charged as a felony. In Maryland, the age of consent is 16, so anyone 16 or over is not considered a minor for the purposes of these laws. Note, however, that under federal laws, anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor. Thus, you can be charged federally for producing or distributing pornography depicting 16 or 17-year-olds even if you cannot be charged under Maryland law.
Simple Possession of Child Pornography
Under Maryland Criminal Law 11-208, a person may not knowingly possess and intentionally retain a film, videotape, photograph, or other visual representation showing an actual child under the age of 16 years engaged as a subject of sadomasochistic abuse, engaged in sexual conduct, or in a state of sexual excitement. This crime is charged as a misdemeanor for a first offender, but a felony for any subsequent offenses. Note again that, while possession of such images of 16 or 17-year-olds is not illegal under Maryland law, it is illegal under federal law.
Penalties for Child Pornography Crimes in Maryland
Potential penalties will vary depending on which of the child pornography charges you face and whether you have any previous convictions for a child pornography charge. For a first offender convicted of production, distribution, or possession with the intent to distribute child pornography, you can face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. For any additional offense after a first conviction, you can face up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $50,000.
For simple possession of child pornography, a first offender will be charged with a misdemeanor, which comes with the possibility of up to 5 years of jail time and fines up to $2,500. If the person has previously been convicted of possession of child pornography, any subsequent charge will be a felony and the individual can face up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Furthermore, both of these crimes are considered “registerable offenses,” for which you will have to register with your local police department as a sex offender for at least 15 years. Your personal information, such as your name, address, photo, and details of your crime, will be available on the internet for all your friends and neighbors to see.
Teen Sexting and Child Pornography in Maryland
One situation that many people may not realize can be charged as child pornography is when teenagers send and receive naked pictures of each other through text messages or other means. If your teenage child sends a naked picture of themselves to a significant other or a friend, they can be charged with producing and distributing child pornography. If this video is forwarded, anyone who forwards it can also be charged.
Furthermore, anyone who receives the images or videos and opens them can be charged with possession of child pornography, even if they did not request that the content be sent. An experienced child pornography defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice can defend against such charges by demonstrating that the video or image was unintentionally viewed and that the minor would not have viewed it had they known what it was.
If You Have Been Charged with Possession of Child Pornography, Call Our Experienced Maryland Defense Team Today
Our team of Maryland child pornography defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice understands that the consequences of being convicted of this crime could very well haunt you for the rest of your life. We will fight aggressively at every proceeding and leave no stone unturned in crafting a defense to make sure your rights are respected and you have the best chance of getting your charges dismissed or reduced. If you or a loved one has been charged with child pornography, call us today at (410) 694-7291 for a free consultation.