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Child Pornography Possession in Maryland Explained

by | Aug 30, 2022 | Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

What is child pornography?

Child pornography is defined as any visual materials that show a minor engaging in sexual activity. It could be a video, drawing, text content or a series of photos. In many instances, the child depicted in those materials usually did not willingly consent to such activities.

Who creates child pornography?

Child porn is typically produced by people who have access to minors. They could be a teacher, counselor, parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin, coach, babysitter, neighbor or even a complete stranger. Minors may be taken advantage of by people that are in an authority position or are someone they have gotten to know or trust. The adult may also have abused the minor, coerced them into participating in illegal sexual acts, assaulted them or used threats of violence to persuade them to engage in those activities.

Is child pornography illegal?

It is currently illegal for anyone to create or distribute child pornography in the state of Maryland. The existing laws prohibit people from performing the following actions:

  1. Using a computer to describe or show a minor engaging in sadomasochistic abuse, sexual activity or other obscene acts.
  2. Knowingly let, induce, cause or solicit a minor to become involved in any type of performance or visual presentation that depicts the particular child engaging in sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse.
  3. Computers cannot be used by a person to purposely sell, buy, let, cause, produce or reproduce, print, compile, send, exchange, receive, disseminate or cause any form of advertisement, statement of any minor’s identifying or descriptive data to solicit, facilitate, encourage, offer or having a minor become involved in sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse. This includes the minor’s name, address, telephone number, email address and other distinguishing information.
  4. Intentionally owning, distributing, advertising, soliciting, or distributing any forms of child pornography.
  5. Willingly owning with plans to distribute, promote, solicit, or advertise any pornographic materials that show a minor involved in sadomasochistic abuse or other kinds of sexual activities. This is true even if the materials or promotions could reasonably lead a person to believe that a minor has engaged in such acts.

What is child pornography possession?

Possession of child pornography is ownership of any materials that depict a minor engaged in sadomasochistic behavior or sexual acts. This includes print and electronic materials. The person may have produced those items themself, traded for or purchased them from others.

Is possessing child pornography illegal?

Possession of child pornography is illegal in the state of Maryland. This is true even if the person did not intentionally purchase or acquire the materials or had no plans of sharing or distributing those items with others.

People who have been found guilty of possessing child pornography could face a $25,000 fine and/or spend up to 10 years in jail. Those penalties can double for subsequent violations. A child pornography possession conviction can also result in requiring the offender to register as a Tier I sex offender. Tier I sex offenders in the state of Maryland may need to stay on the registry for up to 15 years. Being designated as a sex offender can make it difficult for an individual to retain or find employment, own a home or rent an apartment.

Offenders must register after being released from court-ordered supervision or after serving their prison sentence. Failure to register could cause them to be assessed a fine not exceeding $5,000 and another 3 years in jail. They must also report to local authorities every 6 months. If a person who was charged with owning child pornography doesn’t register or report as required, they could face additional penalties. They may even have a warrant issued for their arrest if they move within the state and don’t inform the proper authorities within a reasonable amount of time.

What can I do if I know someone owns child pornography?

You can report ownership of child porn to your local law enforcement office. They may talk to the suspect or ask for a search warrant. If a search warrant is granted, police can legally search the accused person’s residence for proof that they own any child pornography.

Even though child pornography possession isn’t taken quite as seriously as distribution or creation of those types of materials, it doesn’t necessarily mean that instances of child pornography ownership should be ignored. Such incidents should be reported. They may even help police track down the developers and distributors of those materials.

What recourse can I take if I’ve been accused of possessing child pornography?

You can represent yourself or hire legal counsel if you’ve been accused of retaining child pornography. If the case goes to court, you will be referred to as the defendant during court proceedings. The person who brought charges against you will be known as the plaintiff.

Child pornography can have lasting effects on victims and those who own such materials. Even if ownership was accidental, it may still take a person years to build or regain credibility and trust. They will have to work at personal and professional relationships for several weeks, months or even years. It isn’t something that most people tend to forget, especially if a particular person has been charged or convicted of owning child pornography. They may be viewed in a negative light by family members, neighbors or coworkers. A person who was found guilty of owning child pornography may choose to relocate to another city, state or country where they won’t be viewed poorly by people that they come into contact with.

Child pornography possession charges warrant a lot of questions. Contact us today to set up a free consultation. Our trained professionals have years of experience in handling these types of cases. We’ll sit down and listen to what you have to say and even be prepared to represent you in court if necessary.

Our primary goal is to help you get back on your feet again. It won’t happen right away, though. Such ordeals can be valuable learning experiences. After enough time has passed, you’ll probably be back to enjoying the company of people that you know and trust and the work and passions that give your life meaning, probably even before you realize what’s happened.