The Most Serious Internet Crime: Child Pornography Defense In North Carolina (And Why You Need A Lawyer)

If you have been charged with a crime pertaining to child pornography, you probably feel terrified. You may feel as if North Carolina law enforcement, the public and perhaps even the criminal justice system have already deemed you guilty.

The state takes child pornography charges very seriously. Not only do sexual abuse crimes carry potentially severe sentences like years in prison, but the social stigma of a conviction can destroy one's reputation, career and personal relationships. Many sex crimes - including child pornography charges - are felonies, which carry even heavier consequences.

You should not simply leave your case to fate and hope for the best from the court system. It is crucial to work with an attorney who can aggressively defend your rights. Roberts Law Group, PLLC, provides an aggressive criminal defense to clients throughout North Carolina who face child pornography charges. Led by a former prosecutor, we understand the criminal justice system. We use our extensive knowledge and experience to fight aggressively for your rights.

The Degrees Of Sexual Exploitation Of Minors in North Carolina

In North Carolina, child pornography falls into the category of sexual exploitation of a minor. Although any person under 18 years of age is considered a minor, most child sexual exploitation charges pertain to children under the age of consent, which is 16.

Before we discuss the degrees of this sex crime, it is important to understand the definition of child pornography. Our state defines this as any visual representation of a minor engaging in sexual intercourse or any other sexual act.

So, what are the degrees of sexual exploitation of a minor?

  • First-degree sexual exploitation of a minor involves the production of child pornography. It is a Class C felony and carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison for a first-time offender.
  • Second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor means copying or distributing pornographic images of children. As a Class E felony, it may result in two to three years of prison time.
  • Finally, third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor is possession of explicit material depicting children. The penalty for this Class H felony is four to eight months in prison.

A conviction for any of these sexual offenses may also result in penalties like expensive fines, probation, community service and registration as a sex offender.

Law enforcement may also charge teenagers with sex crimes involving child pornography. For example, North Carolina has sexting laws that prohibit taking and sharing nude photographs of a minor via cell phone.

Child Pornography Laws In North Carolina

While most relevant child pornography laws in North Carolina fall under the category of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, there are several other laws that address child sexual abuse and other crimes against children.

  • Disseminating and exhibiting material harmful to minors involves distributing or showing inappropriate material such as pornography to a minor. Depending on the age of the minor, it can result in a prison sentence of up to one year.
  • Disclosure of private images is when a defendant discloses private, sexual images of another person without their consent. This can be punished by up to two years in prison.
  • Solicitation of a child by a computer or other electronic device to commit an unlawful sex act means enticing a child over the internet (or by electronic means, such as texting) to commit a sex act, including creating child pornography. This offense can carry up to two years in prisons.

There are several additional factors that can affect the sentencing for sex crimes, such as:

  • The age of the minor, and whether the minor is under the age of consent
  • The perpetrator's age
  • The perpetrator's criminal history

Federal Child Pornography Charges

Many instances of child sexual abuse are federal crimes, and the federal government has laws and sentencing guidelines addressing the production, distribution and possession of child pornography. If a federal agency such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations arrests you, then you may face federal charges. If the crime occurs in interstate or in foreign commerce, federal charges may also apply.

There are some similarities between state and federal child exploitation crimes - for instance, a conviction for either will result in the defendant's lifetime registration as a sex offender. But the sentences for federal crimes are much more severe than for crimes at the state level. The prison sentences are usually much longer: A first-time federal conviction for child pornography can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years. A second offense can merit 40 years in prison.

What About Non-Realistic Images?

The United States Supreme Court ruled that child pornography is legally obscene, which means that it is not protected by under the First Amendment. However, the court does distinguish between images of visual depictions of real children and fictional representations such as drawings. The law may protect these materials unless a court deems them obscene.

Defense Against Child Pornography Charges In North Carolina

Your future is at risk if you do not work with a criminal defense team. Without experienced attorneys actively defending your case, you face a much greater risk of a conviction and its penalties, including years in prison and sex offender registration.

Roberts Law Group PLLC has extensive experience representing clients charged with possession of child pornography and other offenses. We have several strategies that we use, whether we are negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors or arguing your case at trial. These might include arguing that:

  • The defendant did not possess any child pornography
  • Any possession was not intentional
  • Law enforcement used illegal search and seizure to uncover the illegal visual depictions
  • Law enforcement entrapped the defendant
  • The explicit images in question do not qualify as child pornography

If you are currently facing misdemeanor or felony charges involving child pornography, Roberts Law Group PLLC is ready to assist you. Our distinguished, award-winning lawyers will fight tirelessly to protect your freedom.

Learn more by calling 866-630-2389 or sending us an email. Your initial consultation is free.

North Carolina vs. O.S.
Charge: First Degree Forcible Rape and First Degree Kidnapping
Facing: 26 - 33 years in prison
Result: Dismissed

Case involved allegations of forcible rape at gun point. We were able to gather evidence to attack the accuser's credibility and discredit her story. The prosecution dismissed the charges.

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