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Were You Charged with California Crime Possession of Child Pornography Under Code 311?

A conviction related to the possession, distribution, or production of child pornography will have absolutely devastating consequences for your personal life, your reputation, and your career.  Not only will you be incarcerated and heavily fined, you may also be required to register as a sex offender.  Because the registry is national, sex offender status will follow you wherever you go.  Furthermore, you can be criminally prosecuted for failing to register as a sex offender, leading to yet an additional fine and sentence.

Child pornography offenses are among the worst crimes a defendant can be charged with in California.  If you or one of your family members was arrested for sex crimes involving children or minors, it is absolutely vital that you are represented by a highly skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney.  Do not wait to begin examining your legal options.  Call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 585-5056 immediately to arrange a free and completely confidential legal consultation.

Were You Arrested for Downloading, Viewing, or Distributing Child Pornography in California?

The laws governing child pornography charges in Santa Barbara County and Ventura County are found under Cal. Penal Code § 311.

It is illegal to knowingly view, email, text, create, publish, share, upload, download, gift, sell, produce, film, photograph, or otherwise possess or distribute sexually explicit matter depicting children or teenagers under the age of 18.  It is also a crime to promote or advertise child pornography (also known as “kiddie porn”), even if the advertiser or promoter was not the original creator of the content.  This applies regardless of whether the material was a print photograph, film or video footage, or a still digital image.  It is not a defense that the subject depicted in the material was a willing participant, because individuals under the age of 18 cannot give consent.

What Are the Legal Defenses Against Child Pornography Charges in Ventura County?

Many innocent people are accused of child pornography crimes.  Thanks to misleading file names, it is not always possible to know what a computer file will actually contain when opened, nor is it always possible to know or control who may be using your personal computer.  Furthermore, under Cal. Penal Code § 311.8(a), it is a defense “that the act charged was committed in aid of legitimate scientific or educational purposes.”  There are also cases in which individuals seeking “revenge” deliberately make false accusations with the express intention of destroying the victim’s reputation.
Our California child pornography lawyers will examine your case from every angle to identify the possible defense strategies that could be used.  In order for a defendant to be convicted, the prosecutor must be able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he or she committed every element of the crime being alleged, not just some of the elements.  For instance, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant acted knowingly.

Penalties for Possessing Sexual Material Depicting a Minor or Teenager

Sex crimes are among the most harshly penalized types of crimes in California, and child pornography offenses are among the most serious of all sex crimes.  Most charges related to child pornography are felonies, which are subject to substantially greater penalties than misdemeanors.  Some are classified as misdemeanors or as “wobblers,” which means they can potentially be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.  A skilled sex crimes attorney may be able to persuade the prosecutor’s office that a wobbler should be charged as a misdemeanor rather than a felony, or that the charges should be dropped altogether.

If you are convicted of an offense related to the possession, production, or distribution of obscene material depicting a child or teenager, you may face extremely severe consequences.  California penalties for first-offense child pornography crimes may include the following:

  • Penal Code § 311.1
    • Charge – Possession or production of obscene child pornography with intent to distribute.
    • Class – Wobbler
    • Sentence – 1 year in jail (misdemeanor); 16 months, or 2 or 3 years in prison (felony)
    • Fine – $1,000 (misdemeanor) or $10,000 (felony)
  • Penal Code § 311.2(b)
    • Charge – Possession or production of obscene child pornography with intent to distribute
    • Class – Felony
    • Sentence – 2, 3, or 6 years in prison
    • Fine – $100,000
  • Penal Code § 311.2(c)
    • Charge – Possession or production of child pornography with intent to distribute to a recipient age 18 or older.
    • Class – Wobbler
    • Sentence – 1 year in jail; 16 months, or 2 or 3 years in prison
    • Fine – $2,000 or $10,000
  • Penal Code § 311.2(d)
    • Charge – Possession or production of child pornography with intent to distribute to a recipient age 17 or younger.
    • Class – Felony
    • Sentence – 16 months, or 2 or 3 years in prison
    • Fine – $10,000
  • Penal Code § 311.3(a)
    • Charge – Copying, printing, or developing child pornography.
    • Class – Misdemeanor
    • Sentence – 1 year in jail
    • Fine – $2,000
  • Penal Code § 311.4(a)
    • Charge – Paying a minor to engage in sexual acts for the purpose of creating child pornography.
    • Class – Wobbler
    • Sentence – 1 year in jail; 16 months, or 2 or 3 years in prison
    • Fine – $2,000 or $10,000
  • Penal Code § 311.4(b)
    • Charge – Hiring or causing a minor to appear in commercial child pornography.
    • Class – Felony
    • Sentence – 3, 6, or 8 years in prison
    • Fine – $10,000
  • Penal Code § 311.4(c)
    • Charge – Hiring or causing a minor to appear in child pornography.
    • Class – Felony
    • Sentence – 16 months, or 2 or 3 years in prison
    • Fine – $10,000
  • Penal Code § 311.10
    • Charge – Advertising child pornography.
    • Class – Wobbler
    • Sentence – 1 year in jail; 2, 3, or 4 years in prison
    • Fine – $1,000 or $50,000
  • Penal Code § 311.11
    • Charge – Possession of child pornography.
    • Class – Wobbler
    • Sentence – 1 year in jail; 16 months, or 2 or 3 years in prison
    • Fine – $2,500 or $10,000

While all of these penalties are inarguably devastating, for many defendants, the worst consequence of all is the requirement to register as a sex offender.  Becoming a registered sex offender can destroy your personal relationships and permanently end your career, particularly if you are a teacher, coach, guidance counselor, pediatrician, pediatric nurse, day care owner, or work in another profession that deals with babies, toddlers, children, or teens.

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Santa Barbara Attorneys Handling Felony and Misdemeanor Sex Crimes

There is absolutely no time to waste if you or one of your family members has been arrested for possessing child pornography or other sex crimes involving underage persons.  Because prosecutors are extremely aggressive when it comes to defendants who have been charged with sex offenses against children, and because the consequences of a conviction are so devastating, it is imperative to have a tough, knowledgeable, and highly experienced sex crimes lawyer fighting on your side.

To set up a free legal consultation, call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC right away at (805) 585-5056.  We will keep your information confidential.  Our defense attorneys handle child pornography charges throughout Ventura County and Santa Barbara County, including Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, Santa Maria, Lompoc, Goleta, and other communities in the area.

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