Possession of child pornography is a serious crime. The law has been changed in the last few years to greatly increase the potential penalties. The number of pornographic images a person possesses determines the severity of the punishment.
The penalties for straight possession, as opposed to distribution or production of child pornography, follows:
- Possession of more than 100,000 images- 1st degree crime
- Possession of 1,000 to 100,000 images – 2nd degree crime
- Possession of less than 1,000 images – 3rd degree crime
The law was amended to provide that if a person is convicted of possession of more than 100 images, the court must impose a sentence of imprisonment unless “having regard to the character and condition of the defendant, it is of the opinion that imprisonment would be a serious injustice which overrides the need to deter such conduct.” 2C:24-4 (b) (iii). The law provides that any video or film depicting sexual exploitation of children is considered 10 separate items for purpose of counting the number of images.
It is important to know that the law only requires the prosecutor to prove that the child “presents the appearance of being under the age of 18.” 2C:24-4 (6). Due to the explosion of pornography on the internet, a person with innocent motives can encounter child pornography inadvertently or by going to a website that offers “teenage nudity” or claims that all “models are 18 years of age.”
Given the harsh penalties, it is important to retain an experienced lawyer in child pornography cases. I have represented clients charged with possession of child pornography in Middlesex, Hunterdon, and Somerset counties.