California Penal Code 311 Child Pornography Laws and Defenses

Child pornography laws are defined under California Penal Code 311 PC and make it a crime to knowingly possess, distribute, produce, publicize, duplicate, sell or print child porn in any form.

You can violate PC 311 child porn laws in different ways whether you are viewing, downloading or distributing child pornography.

In order to be convicted of a child porn crime, the prosecutor will have to prove all the elements of the crime listed under CALCRIM 1141 California criminal jury instructions:

  • You knowingly had possession of images that depicted minors engaging in sexual activity;
  • You knew that the images were showing someone under 18 engaging in sexual acts.

Put simply, in order to get convicted of violating Penal Code 311, it must be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, you knowingly were in possession or had control over any obscene material showing a minor engaging or simulating sexual activity. Related Penal Code Sections include:

  • Penal Code 311.11 PC prohibits knowingly possessing any child pornography that was produced using a person under 18 years old;
  • Penal Code 311.10 PC prohibits knowingly advertising obscene child porn for sale or distribution;
  • Penal Code 311.3 PC prohibits knowingly developing, duplicating, printing, or exchanging any type of child pornography;
  • Penal Code 311.4 PC prohibits hiring, employing, persuading, coercing, a minor to participate in producing child pornography:
  • Penal Code 288 PC makes it a crime for someone to commit lewd acts on a child;
  • Penal Code 261.5 PC statutory rape laws makes it a crime to engage in sexual intercourse with a minor.

Federal Child Pornography Laws – 18 U.S.C. § 2252

Title 18 U.S. Code Section 2252 makes it a federal crime to willfully possess, create, distribute, or transport child pornography.

Under the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, child pornography is defined as any visual depiction of a minor who is engaging in sexually explicit conduct, whether made or produced by electronic or other methods.Federal Child Pornography Laws - 18 U.S.C. § 2252

Put simply, this federal statute makes it a crime to possess, receive, or distribute sexual images of minors.

if you willfully have possession or access child pornography with intent to view, then you are violating federal law.

If you are convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 2252 child porn laws, then you could be sentenced up to 15 years in federal prison for each offense, and will be listed on various sex offender registries.

The investigation of child porn cases frequently occurs as an undercover operation in chat rooms where federal law enforcement agents pose as adults interested in child pornography images or videos.

A related federal crime is 18 U.S.C. § 2251 sexual exploitation of children which prohibits anyone from making an attempt to convince a minor in producing child pornography.

Will I Go to Jail Charged with Child Pornography in California?

On the issue of getting jail time in a child porn case, the bottom line is that it really depends on whether or not you’re charged at the state or federal level.

You could certainly go to jail or prison at both the state or federal level, but in my opinion, doing both state and federal child pornography cases, I think you’re much more apt to go to prison if you’re charged at the federal level.

This is because the feds don’t usually mess with child pornography cases unless it involves a significant amount of images, be those images photographs, video.

If there’s a lot involved and the feds get involved, you can bet they’re going to be looking to:

  • put you in prison for a significant length of time,
  • depending on what your criminal record looks like, and
  • depending on what type of images you’re looking at.

Obviously, the more serious, the more shocking the images are, the more likely they’re going to send you to federal prison and you’ll serve any federal prison time at 85%.

But even at the state level for child pornography cases, if you’ve got a criminal record, if you have prior sex offenses and you pick up a child pornography case, they’re going to be looking at sending you to prison.

So, your attorney would have to fight very hard to keep you out of prison if they’ve got the evidence against you.

Defenses for Child Pornography Cases

When they come into your house and execute a search warrant, they seize your computers, your tablets, your phones, they’re going to try to identify who owns them right from the beginning because they know that one of the defenses that people have in child pornography cases is, that’s not my computer.

Somebody else uses that computer or that’s not my phone.  So, they’re trying to fix that problem right from the beginning to get you or one of your loved ones to admit that that your computer and you’re the only one that uses it.

So, it’s crucial when the government comes at you like that that you want to make sure you get a criminal defense lawyer right away.

I have been defending people charged with child pornography at both the state and federal levels.

These are the types of cases that people are sent into custody as some of the most severe punishment, but they’re also the types of cases that sometimes can be defended.

Avoiding Custody Time in Child Porn Cases

Even if they can’t be defended, there are times, if they’re handled the right way and a mitigation package is put together, under the right circumstances, people could avoid custody time.Avoiding Custody Time in Child Porn Cases

Of course, people are scared to go into custody for a variety of reasons. Probably first and foremost, their safety going into custody with a child pornography conviction.

Secondly, there’s the Coronavirus and health-related concerns, and of course, nobody wants to go into custody because you want to be able to provide for yourself, your family, and obviously, not be taken out of commission.

So, you’ve come to the right place.  You’ve taken the first step.  Take the next step.  Pick up the phone.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding if you’re being charged with a child pornography case.

We’ll sit down and go over everything and we’ll get a good strategy together to make the strongest argument to keep you out of both jail and prison, protect your rights, your freedom and your reputation.

Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our firm for a free consultation at (213) 542-0940.