West Chester

Child Pornography Attorney

Charges involving pornographic material featuring children require a skilled and experienced defense attorney. The penalties attached to these crimes are harsh, and the stigma of a child pornography conviction can wreak havoc on a person’s life. These accusations can’t be simply explained away. You need a dedicated and knowledgeable child pornography lawyer.

If you or a loved one is accused of an offense related to child pornography in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, it is imperative to hire a lawyer experienced in this area with a history of success. As a former Assistant District Attorney, Michael J. Skinner knows first-hand how prosecutors handle sex crimes in PA, and where to find the flaws in the charges against you. Let us review your case and fight to have your charges dismissed or find a way to reduce the impact on your life. Call the Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 for a free and confidential consultation.

 

Pennsylvania Child Pornography Laws

In Pennsylvania, the crime of child pornography is found under 18 Pa.C.S. 6312 — “Sexual abuse of children.” Child pornography is defined primarily by three sections — promoting, possessing, and distributing.

Promoting child pornography

Any person who allows a child under the age of 18 years old to engage in a prohibited sexual act or simulation of such an act and has reason to know that the act may be photographed, videotaped or depicted on a computer — or any person who knowingly photographs, videotapes or depicts a child under the age of 18 years old engaging in a prohibited sexual act or simulation of such act — commits the offense of promoting child pornography.

Under this subsection, a mistake of age is no defense.

Possession of Child Pornography

Any person who intentionally views or knowingly possesses or controls “any book, magazine, pamphlet, slide, photograph, film, videotape, computer depiction or other material depicting a child under the age of 18 years engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such act” commits the offense of possession of child pornography.

Distributing Child Pornography

Any person who knowingly sells, distributes, delivers, disseminates, transfers, displays or exhibits to others, or possesses for the purpose of sale, distribution, delivery, dissemination, transfer, display or exhibition to others, any book, magazine, pamphlet, slide, photograph, film, videotape, computer depiction or other material depicting a child under the age of 18 years old engaging in a prohibited sexual act or simulation of such act commits the offense of distribution of child pornography.

Prohibited Sexual Acts

A “prohibited sexual act” is defined broadly. It means generally sexual intercourse, masturbation, sadism, masochism, bestiality, fellatio, cunnilingus, lewd exhibition of the genitals or nudity if such nudity is depicted for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification of any person who might view such depiction.

The law also has narrow exceptions for scientific, governmental, educational or judicial purposes. In addition, the statute distinguishes the separate crime of sexually explicit images transmitted by a minor (this is punishable under a separate statute).

Child Pornography Charges in Pennsylvania

This chart shows a list of different types of Child Pornography Charges under Pennsylvania Law with a description, the statutory class, the offense gravity score, and the prior record score points.

18 Pa.C.S. §   DESCRIPTION STATUTORY CLASS §  303.3 OFFENSE GRAVITY SCORE §  303.7 PRIOR RECORD SCORE POINTS
6312(b)* Sexual abuse of children—photographing/etc. sexual acts (13-‹18 years) F-2 8 2
6312(b)* Sexual abuse of children—photographing/etc. sexual acts (‹13 years or determination of prepubescence) F-2 9 2
6312(b)* Sexual abuse of children—photographing/etc. sexual acts: when indecent contact depicted (13-‹18 years) F-1 10 3
6312(b)* Sexual abuse of children—photographing/etc. sexual acts: when indecent contact depicted (‹13 years or determination of prepubescence) F-1 10 3
6312(c)* Sexual abuse of children—dissemination (13-‹18 years)
(First offense)
F-3 6 1
6312(c)* Sexual abuse of children—dissemination (13-‹18 years)
(Second/subsequent offense)
F-2 8 2
6312(c)* Sexual abuse of children—dissemination (‹13 years or determination of prepubescence) (First offense) F-3 7 1
6312(c)* Sexual abuse of children—dissemination (‹13 years or determination of prepubescence) (Second/subsequent offense) F-2 9 2
6312(c)* Sexual abuse of children—dissemination: when indecent contact depicted (13-‹18 years) (1st offense) F-2 9 2
6312(c)* Sexual abuse of children—dissemination: when indecent contact depicted (13-‹18 years) (Second/subsequent offense) F-1 10 3
6312(c)* Sexual abuse of children—dissemination: when indecent contact depicted (‹13 years or determination of prepubescence) (1st offense) F-2 9 2
6312(c)* Sexual abuse of children—dissemination: indecent contact depicted (‹13 years or determination of prepubescence) (Second/subsequent offense) F-1 10 3
6312(d)* Sexual abuse of children—possess child pornography (13-‹18 years) (First offense) F-3 6 1
6312(d)* Sexual abuse of children—possess child pornography (13-‹18 years) (Second/subsequent offense) F-2 8 2
6312(d)* Sexual abuse of children—possess child pornography (‹13 years or determination of prepubescence) (First offense) F-3 7 1
6312(d)* Sexual abuse of children—possess child pornography (‹13 years or determination of prepubescence) (Second/subsequent offense) F-2 9 2
6312(d)* Sexual abuse of children—possess child pornography: when indecent contact depicted (13-‹18) (First offense) F-2 9 2
6312(d)* Sexual abuse of children—possess child pornography: when indecent contact depicted (13-‹18 years) (Second/subsequent offense) F-1 10 3
6312(d)* Sexual abuse of children—possess child pornography: when indecent contact depicted (‹13 years or determination of prepubescence) (First offense) F-2 9 2
6312(d)* Sexual abuse of children-—possess child pornography: when indecent contact depicted (‹13 years or determination of prepubescence) (Second/subsequent offense) F-1 10 3

 

Related child sex charges in Pennsylvania include statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, photographing sexual acts, depicting sexual acts, sexual abuse of children and corruption of minors.

Child Pornography Penalties in PA

A conviction for one or more of the above list offenses is a felony. Under Pennsylvania law, anyone convicted of a child pornography offense must register as a sexual offender. The registration period is either 15 years, 25 years, or for life. In addition, a defendant may be branded a “sexually violent predator” which would require more stringent registration requirements.

Available Child Pornography Defenses

Since much of the evidence and illicit material involved are on computers and accessed online, child porn cases are usually hyper-technical. As a result, there are many unfortunate and honest accidents that can put an individual in a very difficult place. Even after an image or video has been deleted and wiped from a computer, digital traces likely remain.

A rigorous investigation by a skilled attorney working with forensic computer experts can help you determine if one of the following defenses may apply to your case:

  • The alleged children were, in fact, age 18 or older
  • Images or videos were the result of a computer virus
  • Images or videos were accessed as result of breach of password or non-use of password
  • Individuals other than yourself also had access to your computer
  • The computer, cell phone, or device on which the pornographic material was found belonged to another individual
  • The evidence against you was acquired through an illegal search and seizure
  • You downloaded bulk pornography that included unknown child pornography files
  • Your computer was hacked

Unknowing Possession of Child Porn & Accidental Download

Because of the serious nature of these allegations, an alleged offender can feel as though he or she has been presumed guilty before he or she even set foot in a courtroom. However, there may be several possible explanations as to how an innocent person may have inadvertently viewed material considered pornographic.

Material with children can be accidentally downloaded on a home computer, cell phone, or another mobile device. In some cases, more than one person might use a computer and not realize the images are on the computer. In other cases, the images might depict a child but should not be considered child pornography at all.

At Skinner Law Firm, we know what it takes to show that a client was unknowingly in possession of child pornography or accidently downloaded materials. We’ll reach out to computer experts to examine your devices’ search, download, and viewing history to demonstrate where the material actually came from. In many cases, we can show you made a good faith attempt to delete items that you believed to contain a child or that your IP address or device was used without your consent or knowledge for illegal purposes.

Contact a West Chester Child Pornography Lawyer

If you have been accused of filming, possessing or distributing pornographic material featuring children, it is imperative for you to seek legal representation as soon as possible. The stigma and penalties if convicted are very real.  Regardless of the circumstances, you still have rights and options to consider. By acting quickly and working with a veteran defense attorney like Michael J. Skinner , you may be eligible to avoid formal charges, obtain a dismissal, reduce the charge and consequences, or prove your innocence.

In Chester County, let us review the evidence and fight to protect you. Call (610) 436-1410for a free and confidential consultation.

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