A bill is currently heading to Governor Christie’s desk to overhaul New Jersey’s child pornography laws to make them similar to the current federal criminal law which has much more severe penalties. The current law provides that it is illegal to possess “…any photograph, film, videotape, computer program or file, video game” which depicts a child engaged in a prohibited sexual act. A child is defined as a person under 16 years of age.
While the law seems simple, in reality it is very complicated. Due to the explosion of pornography on the internet, a person can encounter child pornography inadvertently or by going to a website that offers “teenage nudity” that mixes children naked and also engaging in prohibited sexual acts. Another issue is how to defend a case where the accused went to a website that prints on the bottom that all “models” are 18 years of age or older.
Much child pornography is produced in Russia by organized crime and they have flooded the internet with shady websites.
Possession of child pornography, N.J.S.A. 2C:44-4 (5) (b), is a fourth degree crime with punishment up to 18 months in state prison. Allowing a child to engage in prohibited sexual acts, N.J.S.A. 2C:44-4 (3), is a second degree crime with punishment up to 10 years in state prison.