Houston Child Pornography Attorney

Possessing or promoting pornographic images of a minor is a felony in the state of Texas. Because such crimes relate to the health and well-being of children, Texas imposes strict punishments against those convicted of child pornography-related crimes. In addition to harsh prison sentences and fines, those convicted are also required to register as sex offenders. Making the situation more difficult for the defendant, Texas statute allows for the prosecution of each image of child pornography as a separate crime, which can potentially result in numerous charges and lengthy sentencing for those convicted. 

With so much at stake, it is imperative to consult with a criminal defense attorney if you are accused of possession or promotion of child pornography. The criminal defense attorneys at Ceja Law Firm have the skills necessary to protect your rights throughout a criminal investigation and trial. Contact us today if you have been charged with child pornography charges.

Possession of Child Pornography

In Texas, it is illegal to knowingly or intentionally possess or access visual material that depicts a person under the age of 18 engaging in sexual conduct. Under the statute, visual material means film, photo, or video, in addition to any medium that allows an image to be displayed on a screen or transmitted via the internet. Sexual conduct has a broad definition, including the display of uncovered body parts as well as a number of sex acts. 

It is important to note that to be guilty of possession, a defendant does not have to download or actually save a file on a computer. The statute considers accessing pornographic material with the intent to view it as possession. As such, web-browsing could constitute possession. 

If convicted for possession of child pornography, you face a third-degree felony, punishable by between 2 and 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If you have previously been convicted of possessing child pornography, the offense increases to a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. For a third or subsequent offense, the punishment increases to up to 99 years in prison.

Promotion of Child Pornography

While possession of pornographic images of minors is a crime by itself, promoting child pornography is also a crime. Promoting means to make, distribute, sell, publish, transmit, or otherwise disseminate child pornography or agree to do so. Under Texas statute, if a defendant is found with six or more identical pornographic images of a child, it is presumed the defendant intended to promote the material. If the promotion involves creating child pornography, the act also violates another Texas law — the law against sexual performance by a child. 

If you are convicted of promotion of child pornography, you face up to 20 years in prison for a first offense and 99 years in prison for a second or subsequent offense. If you are convicted of sexual performance by a child and the child is between 14 and 17 years old, you face a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. If the sexual performance is by a child under the age of 14, the offense is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison. 

Sex Offender Registry

In addition to jail time and fines, a conviction for possession or promotion of child pornography is a reportable conviction under Texas’ sex offender registration program. This means that a conviction for child pornography requires registering as a sex offender in a public registry. In addition to reporting requirements, a registered sex offender cannot live within 500 hundred feet of a school, park, or other public space utilized by children. Registration may also impose restrictions on your ability to access and use the internet and social networking websites. Finally, because sex offenders must report their registration status, being a registered sex offender may make it difficult to find employment in many professions that deal with the public and/or minors. 

Defenses to Child Pornography Charges

In many cases, someone charged with child pornography may be able to assert defenses against the charges. For instance, the Texas statute provides three specific defenses if the defendant is the spouse of the minor, the conduct was for a legitimate purpose, or the defendant is not more than two years older than the minor. 

In other situations, an experienced criminal defense attorney can mount defenses based on violations of constitutional rights when obtaining evidence, such as improper searches and seizures and failing to obtain a warrant. In other cases, defendants may be able to successfully argue police entrapment, or encouragement to commit a crime. 

Federal Charges

Because so many child pornography cases often involve trading pornographic images between viewers thousands of miles apart, the federal government also aggressively prosecutes the crime. Like Texas statute, federal law also prohibits the possession or production of sexually explicit images of children under the age of 18. Federal authorities may become involved if the child pornography offense occurred in interstate or foreign commerce. In such cases, the federal sentencing guidelines suggest punishment of between 5 and 30 years in prison, depending on the specific crime. Federal prosecution can occur in addition to state prosecution.

Contact Ceja Law Firm Today 

If you are under investigation for, or have been charged with, crimes related to child pornography, contact Ceja Law Firm today. Attorney Jose Ceja is a Houston area criminal defense attorney with experience in protecting the rights of those accused of serious crimes. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Ceja has an inside understanding of the Texas criminal justice system and knows how to use it for the benefit of his clients. 

Attorney Ceja understands many cases of child pornography are over-prosecuted and are often the result of false accusations. His goal is to aggressively represent your interests and obtain the best outcome in your case. Contact Ceja Law Firm today and take comfort in having a dedicated criminal defense attorney on your side.