Child pornography is illegal in California. The state takes these cases quite seriously, so you could be subject to severe penalties if you are found to have created, possessed or traded in child pornography.
The same is true for the crime of using, persuading or coercing a minor to distribute or appear in child pornography. Defined in California Penal Code 311.4 PC, employment of a minor in producing or distributing child pornography is a felony. It punishable by up to eight years in prison and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
If you or someone you love has been accused of recruiting a minor to participate in the production or distribution of child pornography, you first call should be to a skilled sex crimes defense attorney. Your attorney will carefully review the facts of your case with you and advise you on the best route forward.
Employment of a minor in producing or distributing child pornography
In order to convict someone of employment of a minor in producing or distributing child pornography, a prosecutor will have to prove that:
- The defendant knew that the minor was under 18 years of age.
- One or more of the following is true:
- The defendant recruited, used, persuaded or coerced the minor to exhibit, sell, trade or otherwise distribute obscene matter.
- The defendant recruited, used, persuaded or coerced the minor to pose, model or perform in media involving “sexual conduct.”
California law defines “sexual conduct” as actual or simulated “sexual intercourse, oral copulation, anal intercourse, anal oral copulation, masturbation, bestiality, sexual sadism, sexual masochism, penetration of the vagina or rectum by any object in a lewd or lascivious manner, exhibition of the genitals or pubic or rectal area for the purpose of sexual stimulation of the viewer.”
Penalties for employment of a minor in child pornography
The punishments for employing a minor to produce or distribute child pornography will vary, depending on the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history.
Employing a minor to exhibit, sell or distribute obscene material is a “wobbler” under California law. This means it can be prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by:
- One year incarceration
- Up to $2,000 in fines
As a felony, it is punishable by:
- 16 months, two years or three years incarceration in state prison
- Fines of up to $50,000
Employing a minor in the production of child pornography is always a felony, and it is subject to stiffer penalties if the defendant intended to sell the obscene material.
If the child pornography had no “commercial purpose,” the maximum penalty is three years in state prison. However, if the defendant intended to profit from the production of the material, they could face up to eight years in prison.
In addition to the penalties above, a conviction for employing a minor to participate in the production or distribution of pornography will require the defendant to register as a sex offender.
Defenses against child pornography charges
One of the critical elements of this crime is that to be found guilty, the defendant must have known beforehand that the minor was under 18 at the time of the offense. If the defendant did not know or have reason to believe that the minor was underage at the time, they cannot be found guilty under 311.4 PC.
Your attorney will review the details and the evidence in your case with you and work to build the best possible defense. Call Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Robert M. Helfend today for a free case review – 800-834-6434.