Skip to Content
Free Criminal Consultation! 805-467-6060

Penalties for Child Pornography in CA

child abused online, cybercrime against a child

What Happens If I’m Convicted of Child Pornography in CA?

Nowadays, it is common for images and videos of minors engaged in sexual activity to circulate the internet. You may have heard stories or watched TV shows about young people recording their sexual activities with their peers and sharing those videos or pictures with friends without consent. Or maybe you clicked on a random link in your email that directed you to a child pornography site.

The digital age has arguably made it easier for child pornography to disseminate. Unfortunately, this also makes it easier for people to commit child pornography, with or without realizing it.

Definition of Child Pornography

Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor, or a person under 18 years old. It is a form of child sexual exploitation that is punishable to the fullest extent of the law, and prosecutors stop at nothing to fight for a conviction.

Both the US government and the state of California prohibit the depiction of minors engaged in actual or simulated sexual conduct, known as child pornography.

Possession of Child Pornography

Possessing any amount of child pornography in any form is a crime. To convict a defendant of this crime, the prosecutor has the burden of proving that they possessed child pornography and knew that it depicted a person under 18. Illicit material includes:

  • Films
  • Filmstrips
  • Photographs
  • Slides
  • Photocopies
  • Videos
  • Video laser disc
  • Computer hardware or software
  • Computer floppy discs
  • Data storage media
  • CD-ROM
  • Computer-generated equipment or images

Possession of Child Pornography with Intent to Distribute

Possessing child pornography with the intent to distribute it is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be a misdemeanor or felony. Possessing child pornography with intent to distribute it to someone over 18 is punishable by up to 1 year behind bars and/or $2,000 fines. A previous conviction for this offense warrants felony charges. Felony possession of child pornography with intent to distribute occurs when the illicit material is distributed to a minor under 18 years old.

Distribution of Child Pornography

Another wobbler offense, distributing child pornography by sending or bringing it into California for sale or distribution is a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor conviction for this offense is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or $1,000 fines, while a felony conviction is punishable by state imprisonment and/or $10,000 fines.

Sexual Exploitation of a Child Charges

Punishable by 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fines, sexual exploitation of a minor occurs when a person knowingly develops, duplicates, prints, or exchanges information, data, or images depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct, such as:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Masturbation
  • Sadomasochistic abuse
  • Exhibition of genitals or the pubic or rectal area
  • Defecation or urination for sexual stimulation

Hiring a Minor to Perform Sexual Acts

It is illegal to hire, employ, or use a minor that one would reasonably know is a minor to engage in sexual acts. The penalty upon conviction is up to 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fines. If the defendant was previously convicted for this offense, they could get fined $50,000.

Sex Offender Requirements in CA

Most people convicted of certain sex offenses are required to register in the California Sex Offender Registry (SOR), a database consisting of offenders’ personal information and criminal details. The purpose of the SOR is to help keep the public safe by notifying them of sex offenders in their areas.

Only the public is allowed to access the SOR, and offenders who are caught accessing the database themselves could face up to 1 year in jail and/or $1,000 fines. Once they’re released into the community, sex offenders must register in the SOR within 5 working days. When they do, the following information will be accessible to the general public:

  • Name
  • Photo
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Scars/marks/tattoos
  • Height and weight
  • Hair color and eye color
  • Ethnicity
  • Sex
  • Offense type and description

In addition, offenders will be required to update their information every 30 days, 90 days, or annually, depending on their specific circumstances. Regardless, all sex offenders in California must communicate the following information to their local police department:

  • Change of address
  • Transient status (homeless)
  • “Sexually violent predator” status

With all of this information in mind, you can see that the sex offender registry could feel like another prison sentence. Considering the details that are made available to the public, it is easy for an offender to feel imprisoned after their release from imprisonment.

Employers, landlords, creditors, university officials, and others could search you up in the SOR and learn about your criminal history. When they do, there’s a likelihood that they will not want to offer you the valuable opportunities you want and need. Jobs, housing, financial aid, and college degrees may be unattainable because of the sex offender registration requirement in criminal sentences.

Your First Line of Defense

As former prosecutors who now defend the accused, our attorneys know what you’re up against. From our experience on the other side of the criminal justice system, we know which defense strategies can increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome. To discuss your situation with us, schedule a consultation online or at (805) 467-6060! Your fight is our fight.