The FBI Child Exploitation Task Force and the Newton Police Department worked together to arrest two Newton men accused of possessing child pornography downloaded from the Internet. One man faces three counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor while the other faces only two for what is assumed to be explicit digital images of minors.
Michael Hedrick and John Smith were being held after their arrest at the Catawba Detention Center.
Third degree sexual exploitation of a minor is charged when an individual is found to be in possession of sexually explicit images of a child under the age of 18. The images may be video or still shots, drawings or any other visual depiction.
Third degree sexual exploitation of a minor is intended to punish only those who possess child pornography. Those who manufacture, film, finance, distribute or take other action in creating child pornography may be charged with second or first degree exploitation of a minor. Each is classed at a separate felony level:
- Third degree: Class I felony
- Second degree: Class F felony
- First degree: Class D felony
If convicted of possession of child pornography, both men could face sentencing of four to six months of community punishment on each count, assuming no prior criminal history, based on North Carolina’s felony sentencing chart.
Source: Hickory Record, “Two Newton men arrested on child exploitation charges,” March 13, 2013