Being charged with any criminal offense can be a frustrating and humiliating experience. When you are accused of possessing or distributing child pornography, however, your whole world can be turned upside down.
Not only does a conviction for a child pornography offense carry steep penalties, but the mere accusation of being involved with child pornography can impact your home life and professional reputation. Depending on the specific offense of which you are convicted, you could face decades in prison.
If you are facing these charges, it is vital to know more about child pornography laws in North Carolina and what fighting your charges involves.
Understanding Child Pornography Laws in North Carolina
The primary statutes addressing child pornography are N.C.G.S. Sections 14-190.16, 14.190.17, and 14-190.17A, which criminalize sexual exploitation of a minor. This crime has three degrees of severity:
First-Degree Sexual Exploitation
First-degree sexual exploitation is defined as using, assisting, encouraging, or permitting a child under 18 to participate in sexual activity. The activity can either be for a live performance or recorded to produce materials. Transporting a child to perform or produce this material is also first-degree sexual exploitation.
It is also first-degree sexual exploitation to make or duplicate a recording of a minor engaged in sexual activity to sell it. First-degree sexual exploitation of a minor is a Class C felony.
Second-Degree Sexual Exploitation
Second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor is a Class E felony. This statute criminalizes recording, producing, or duplicating materials that show a minor child engaged in sexual activity. Also covered by this statute is distributing, selling, or purchasing materials that constitute child pornography.
Third-Degree Sexual Exploitation
If you are found to have possessed child pornography, then you can be found guilty of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. This crime is a Class H felony.
Possible Penalties for Sexual Exploitation of a Child
The various classifications of felonies are punished in different ways. A Class H felony can result in a prison sentence of up to 39 months, while a Class C felony could lead to a 231-month prison sentence.
You could also be required to register as a sex offender, which can impact your ability to find employment and housing for years to come.
Defending Against Child Pornography Charges
It can be tempting to try to resolve your case involving a child pornography charge quickly to make the matter go away. Not only does this course of action not make your charges or problems go away, but it can also subject you to criminal penalties for an offense for which you may have valid defenses.
Rushing into a plea agreement too quickly can mean foregoing opportunities to challenge the prosecution’s case and establish your innocence of the allegations. It is crucial to consult an attorney to give yourself the best chance of fighting your charges.
Often times, these cases are also assessed for possible federal charges depending on the number of depictions, type, and other factual circumstances surrounding the case. The attorneys at Greenwood Law are adept at handling these charges both in North Carolina state court and in federal court. Many times, early involvement by a skilled attorney can help direct the case in the most favorable direction.
A Skilled Lawyer Is Vital to Fight Child Pornography Charges
If you are facing child pornography charges, you need a dedicated legal advocate on your side with an intricate knowledge of North Carolina law. A seasoned North Carolina child pornography lawyer can protect your rights and create a defense strategy tailored to the unique details of your case.