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Child Pornography in Maryland: FAQs

by | Aug 16, 2022 | Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

What is child pornography?

Child pornography is any material that shows one or more minors involved in sexual activities. This material may be a video, photos or other multimedia content. Child pornography is often distributed in print form or online.

What are the current child pornography laws in Maryland?

People who reside in the state of Maryland are not allowed to perform the following acts:

  • Utilize a computer for the purpose of describing or showing a minor involved in sexual activity, an obscene act or sadomasochistic abuse.
  • Take videos or photos of a minor who is involved in a sexual act, sadomasochistic abuse or an obscene activity.
  • Intentionally own, distribute, advertise, solicit or promote any media that includes a minor who is involved in obscene activity, sadomasochistic abuse or sexual acts. That material cannot show or lead a person to believe that a particular minor is or was involved in such acts or promote the assumption that the specific individual was engaged in those activities. A computer cannot be used to purposely provide identifying information for a minor for the purposes of soliciting, offering, promoting, allowing or involving people in illegal sexual activity with a minor or sadomasochistic activities. Computers can’t be used for sending notices, selling, buying, recreating, publishing, printing, sending, adding or gathering ads, notices or other information regarding possible sexual activity with an underage person.
  • Letting, persuading, coercing or causing a minor to be directly involved with a performance or visual expression of an act of sexual conduct or sadomasochistic behavior that includes a minor.

Who produces child pornography?

Unfortunately, there are all types of people who create and distribute child pornography around the world. Many of them know their subjects personally. They could be a parent, aunt, uncle, legal custodian, friend, neighbor, teacher, boss or acquaintance of a minor child. There are also professionals who take advantage of minors who may feel depressed, suicidal or helpless.

What type of impact can child porn have on victims?

The effects of child pornography can last for many years. Victims may have a tough time coping with the abuse that they suffered, which can interfere with their personal relationships with family members, romantic partners and friends. Even if the pornographic materials are removed from circulation, they may still be viewed in a negative light by their peers, even if they were tricked or forced into participating into illegal sexual acts.

How can I report child pornography?

You can begin by reporting any suspected materials to your local law enforcement office. They should follow up on your complaint. Additional investigation may be taken on a state or federal level as necessary. Child pornography can also be reported to the cyber tip line by calling 1-800-843-5678 or visiting their website at www.cybertipline.com.

What should I do if someone I know is a victim of child pornography?

There are programs that can help child pornography victims. You go to their site www.victimsofcrime.org or call them at 1-800-394-2255. You can also report evidence of child pornography and suspected victims of such activities to law enforcement.

What are the penalties for producing or possessing child pornography?

Penalties can vary, depending on the nature and severity of the crime. A person who is found guilty of possessing or distributing child pornography could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $25,000 and serve up to 10 years in prison. Those penalties will be doubled for every additional violation that occurs.

A child possession conviction in the state of Maryland will also add a Tier I registered sex offender classification to that person. They will need to remain on the registry for 15 years. Anyone who is found guilty of distributing or developing child pornography in Maryland will officially be listed as a Tier II registered sex offender. That person will stay on the sex offender registry for 25 years. Having more than one conviction for the same child pornography crimes or other sex crimes added to an individual’s record can result in them being on the state sex offender registry for life.

People who are added to the state sex offender registry must supply their fingerprints, full name and address, their employer or school name (if they are not a current Maryland state resident), and the name of the organization that is granting them work release, if applicable. All those details will be submitted along with the current date and the person’s signature on a registration statement. Failure to register or updating registration data after moving can lead to a misdemeanor charge. The offender could be ordered to pay a fine of no more than $5,000 and serve up to three years in jail.

What can I do if I’m suspected of owning or creating child pornography?

You may want to hire legal counsel if you’ve been accused of developing or possessing child pornography. If false claims are made against you, you’ll need to provide evidence that can refute those claims. People may be called to testify both for you and against you during court proceedings. Any witnesses who can corroborate your story and items such as time and date stamps that can verify that you were working or performing other activities when the alleged child pornography materials were created and distributed may reduce the likelihood of being found guilty of child pornography crimes.

What can I do to protect my children?

Parents may need to have a difficult conversation about the dangers of child pornography. They should also be prepared to ask questions or inquire if their child starts acting different than normal. If you observe suspicious behavior or if your child feels uneasy around certain relatives or friends, you can inquire with those individuals or follow up with law enforcement. You can also do some investigative research online to safeguard your children against people that they may know who have either been suspected or convicted of developing, owning or releasing child pornography.

Can I get the sex offender classification removed from my record?

It may take some time before a registered sex offender can be moved from the Maryland state registry. You’ll need either a true test edition of a court order to have the conviction that caused the initial registry to be expunged, a governor’s pardon for the action that led to the registry or a copy of a court order that sets aside, vacates or reverses the conviction that led to the accused person being added to the state sex offender registry in the first place.

Child pornography is a difficult subject. The impact it has on victims and their loved ones can be felt for generations. Being convicted of a child pornography crime can also hamper a person’s ability to secure employment, be approved for a home loan or sustain lasting personal relationships. If you or someone you know has been affected by child pornography, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Our trained professionals will listen to what you have to say and provide invaluable advice for possible next steps. We can even represent you in a court of law. Our end goal is to help you get your life back on track again. It may take some time, but you’ll probably be on your way to better, brighter days before you know it.