Child Pornography Charges, Investigations, and Ramifications in New Jersey
State and Federal Authorities Investigate and Aggressively Prosecute those Accused of Child Pornography Offenses in NJ. Here’s What to Know if This Happens to You
It’s easy to forget that what you store on your computer can incriminate you, especially when you download and distribute illegal content. Child pornography statutes in New Jersey harshly punish those guilty of possessing, promoting, and distributing materials that sexually exploit children. The state has a vested interest in protecting the most vulnerable in society; thus, the penalties for child pornography are extremely serious. You could face years behind bars, high fines, and public shame, not to mention a federal indictment that leads to even harsher consequences.
Involvement with child pornography can threaten your relationships, career, and future. Convicted individuals of child pornography possession, distribution, or manufacture face lengthy prison sentences but also related crimes of child endangerment and computer crimes. They also face housing and employment restrictions and public scrutiny when their identity and crimes are published for the public as sex offenders on the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry. Given the distaste that prosecutors and the public have for child pornography crimes, you are unlikely to find any leniency if you face child pornography criminal charges, which is why an aggressive, experienced criminal defense lawyer is an absolute must in these cases.
Our dedicated team of criminal defense attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm handle child pornography cases on a regular basis and have taken on many of these cases in our lengthy careers. We have experience dealing with prosecutors and judges often hostile to our clients and use innovative, successful strategies and defenses to these and other sex crime charges. Whether it’s a negotiated plea to obtain a shortened sentence, a litigated court battle that shows how flimsy the state or federal prosecutor’s evidence is, or a compromise to aid in the investigation in return for a better outcome, our criminal defense lawyers understand all of the strategies that can be employed to help you repair the damage from child pornography criminal charges in federal or state court. Contact a talented child pornography defense attorney on our team for help with your case today. You can reach us 24/7 by calling (201)-556-1570 for a free consultation.
Common Agencies Investigating Child Pornography Cases
When you are a suspect for having, making, or sharing child pornography, the New Jersey State Police, the Attorney General’s Office, county prosecutors, and the Division of Criminal Justice investigate and prosecute those who deal in child pornography. However, when the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) comes knocking on your door, you know you are the subject of a federal investigation for child pornography or child pornography-related crimes over the Internet. Both federal and state prosecution may occur.
The Laws on Child Pornography in New Jersey
It is illegal to possess, distribute, share, receive, create, or view child pornography, which consists of images, computer programs, photos, files, or videos of children performing sexual acts, whether actual or simulated. Anyone under 18 is a child for purposes of the law. Sexual acts include nudity, masturbation, oral sex, intercourse, or other sexual content. You could also face prison for allowing a child to engage in pornographic depictions.
What it Means to be Charged with Possessing Child Pornography
New Jersey criminalizes the possession of child pornography as a third degree crime. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4, possession includes possessing and viewing sexual acts with a child. A conviction for possession may result in three to five years in prison and a $15,000.00 fine. And though you may have some negotiation room with the prosecutor for possession only, it depends on the extent of the crime. When the evidence against you consists of more than 100 images, the law mandates incarceration.
Understanding Child Pornography Distribution Charges
You face a worse fate when you distribute child pornography, a second degree crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a). It is illegal to distribute, possess with the intent to distribute, or store items with sexual exploitation of a child. The penalties include five to ten years and a $150,000.00 fine. Second degree crimes come with a presumption of incarceration, meaning a judge will sentence you to prison unless you give them a compelling reason not to. Moreover, a conviction results in Megan’s Law requirements to register as a sex offender. And mandatory minimum prison sentences apply to those with 25 items or more; even after a sentence, a convicted individual may not expunge the conviction from their record.
Accused of Manufacturing Child Pornography in NJ?
Manufacturing child pornography is a first degree crime punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison and a $200,000.00 fine under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(3). Anyone knowingly responsible for a child engaging in sexual acts or their simulation for recording on film or digital medium is guilty of manufacturing. It also includes creating images or videos of children engaging in sexual acts. It is the most severe crime level in the state, and imprisonment is almost inevitable. The conviction also stays on your record, and Megan’s Law registration is mandatory.
Keep in mind, it is no defense that you did not know the child was a minor or that you believed you were dealing with someone over 18. You are still liable for the crime despite your ignorance of their age. Moreover, even minors can face criminal charges for child pornography activities with another minor, such as sending naked images, sexually explicit videos, or sexts.
Federal Child Pornography Crimes and Sentencing
On the federal level, making or disseminating child pornography could lead to a 40-year prison sentence. Since perpetrators of child pornography production or distribution use the Internet, the federal government prosecutes those who cross state lines with illegal activity. And the charges can be worse when the child pornography victims are very young or subjected to violence. Since possession is typically a local crime, federal prosecutors leave that to the states.
Moreover, soliciting a minor online is a second degree crime. So, when a purveyor of child pornography seeks a victim for their pornography materials, they may entice a child on the Internet to engage in sexual acts or to participate in child pornography manufacturing. Other federal crimes include sexual exploitation of children in the production of child pornography (18 U.S.C. 2251), selling and buying children (18 U.S.C. 2251A), possessing, distributing, and receiving child pornography (18 U.S.C. 2252), producing sexually explicit materials of a minor for importation (18 U.S.C. 2260), and activities relating child pornography (18 U.S.C. 2256).
The penalties for federal child pornography and child pornography-related charges depend on the federal sentencing scheme that adjusts the severity of the punishment upward for aggravating factors and downward for mitigating factors based on offense levels. For example, child pornography involving young children may increase the base crime level, while a perpetrator’s admission to the charges may lower the base level. An accused’s prior criminal history also factors in sentencing.
An Example of a Federal Child Pornography Case in NJ
One such case of federal child pornography charges occurred recently in New Jersey. A Succasunna, Morris County, NJ resident’s arrest for allegedly sharing dozens of media files containing images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of prepubescent children between August 2021 and April last year highlights the high stakes of dealing in child pornography. The federal child pornography distribution charges carry a sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine.
New Jersey Child Pornography Case Example
Another recent case, a state case of child pornography crimes, involves a 19-year-old child pornography network leader who allegedly coordinated with others to distribute child pornography using a telephone application. He also supposedly secretly recorded victims engaging in sexual activity, some of whom were minors. He faces charges for 25 counts, ranging from first degree to third degree crimes, including leading a child pornography network (N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4.1a), possession of child pornography with the intent to distribute (N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4B(5)(a)(ii), distribution of child sexual abuse material (N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)a)(i), endangering the welfare of a child (N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(3), and (4)), criminal computer activity (N.J.S.A. 2C: 20-25e) and invasion of privacy (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-9b(1).
NJ Child Pornography Defense Lawyers Fighting for Your Innocence
If you have been accused of a crime involving child pornography, have been charged with a state or federal offense, or have been contacted by authorities in relation to the possession, dissemination, or creation of sexually explicit content involving minors in New Jersey, you need to protect your rights and your best interests immediately. Do not hesitate to call the New Jersey criminal defense attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm for a free consultation about your child pornography case. We defend clients charged with crimes all over the state of NJ and in federal court, so whether your charges occur in Bergen County, Essex County, Passaic County, Hudson County, Union County, Middlesex County, Morris County, or another county in New Jersey, get in touch with us now for immediate assistance.