Child pornography is considered a particularly grievous offense by both law enforcement and the community at large.
Victims of child pornography are left not only with the trauma of the sex acts performed during its production but also later in life. Today especially, these videos or images are more often than not immortalized on the Internet.
Investigators continue to reveal even high-ranking members of society sometimes engage in this practice. Take one Texas doctor recently charged with possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony.
Texas Doctor Faces Child Pornography Charges
An Odessa-based doctor practicing nearly three decades was recently caught after Microsoft BingImage reported a tip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children based on images the man allegedly downloaded.
This triggered an investigation and ultimate search of his home and computer, which allegedly revealed that he was in possession of child pornography.
If convicted, he faces 2-10 years in prison, and will likely lose his license to practice medicine. A conviction would also require registration as a sex offender.
Clearly, child pornography is a quite serious offense with life-changing consequences. So, what should you know about Texas child pornography charges?
We’ve put together a guide covering how Texas prosecutes child pornography, and the emerging topic of teen sexting, which can result in child pornography charges.
Texas Child Pornography Laws
Texas penalizes both the possession and promotion of child pornography — promotion being a more serious offense. “Promotion” of child pornography, however, is also probably defined differently than you think.
Let’s take a look at both offenses.
Possession of Child Pornography
Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony punishable by 2-10 years in prison. The accused may face additional charges such as the intent to promote child pornography.
Other elements that could enhance this charge include:
- Distribution of child pornography
- Possession of numerous images or media files
Promotion of Child Pornography
When you think of the traditional definition of promotion, you probably imagine someone publicizing a product or venture with an aim to increase sales or public awareness in some way.
While someone who does participate in those types of activities with child pornography images, one can face charges for much less.
Being charged with the promotion of child pornography only requires that the defendant possess no less than six explicit images or videos of a single child.
Possessing six images or more of the same child regardless of your intent leave you subject to second-degree felony charges, which can double your prison sentence upon conviction.
If you’re found distributing or trading those images with another person will further enhance this charge.
Texas Teen Sexting Laws
Many teens involved in romantic relationships engage in sexting, including sending and receiving explicit images. Because this practice involves sexually explicit or suggestive images of minors, it can result in more serious charges than a teen could ever expect.
In Texas, teen sexting can be charged as possession or promotion of child pornography, or as promoting sexual performance by a minor.
Sexting Between Consenting Teens
Minors do have a defense to this charge, though, under the following conditions:
- The images were solely for the sender or recipient
- The images were sent within a dating relationship
- Both parties are not more than two years apart in age, including when one party is over 18 years of age
Adults More Than Two Years Older Than a Sexting Teen
When an adult engages in sexting with a teen, or if the parties are more than two years apart in age, this is prosecuted as child pornography and/or promoting sexual performance by a minor.
This means that many defendants facing statutory rape charges find themselves facing child pornography charges as well.
Sex offender registration would be required for convictions on either of these offenses, and crimes committed against children are unlikely to be eligible for removal from the sex offender registry.
Ultimately as computers become more ubiquitous in our society, offenses frequently committed electronically, such as child pornography, will become a key focus of law enforcement.
If you wind up facing Texas Child Pornography charges, now more than ever, you will need an experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney to help you build a sound defense.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.