Take a Selfie, Go to Jail for Child Pornography? (PC 311)
If you have any experience with social media, you have no doubt seen or taken a selfie. According to Google, Google Photos users uploaded more than 24 billion selfies in 2015, and that is just one of hundreds of ways to take selfies.
However, the ability to share images so easily also causes people to unknowingly commit crimes. And when you share selfies with minors, one crime you could be accused of committing is child pornography.
Child Pornography Laws in California (PC 311)
How does a person – especially a minor – end up being accused of child pornography simply by taking a photo of him or herself? There are a number of ways this can happen under both federal and state law.
Under 18 U.S.C. Section 2256, it is a federal crime to create, possess, distribute, or participate in the visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. This means, for example, that a person who takes a photo of him or herself engaged in sexual activity with a minor is guilty of violating federal law.
There are also a number of crimes under California law related to child pornography, including:
- PC 311.1 and 311.2: Sending, transporting, producing, possessing, or duplicating any depiction of sexual conduct involving a minor, with intent to distribute it;
- PC 311.3: Developing, duplicating, printing, or exchanging any depiction of sexual conduct involving a minor;
- PC 311.4: Hiring, employing, using, persuading, or coercing a minor to participate in the production of depictions of sexual conduct;
- PC 311.10: Advertising depictions of sexual conduct involving a minor for sale or distribution; and
- PC 311.11: Possessing or controlling any depiction of sexual conduct involving a person under the age of 18.
No Exception for Selfies
In California, a person under the age of 18 is considered incapable of giving consent to sexual activity. This means that under California child pornography laws, a minor cannot be considered a willing participant in the taking of a photograph that results in a charge of child pornography. In other words, it does not matter under the law that the minor who is in the sexually explicit photo is also the person who took the photo. The only question to be answered is whether the person appearing in the photo was under the age of 18.
So, if your teen son or daughter uses his or her phone to send a nude selfie to a teen boyfriend or girlfriend, both your child and his or her significant other could face child pornography charges.
What Constitutes Possession of Child Pornography?
In order to be convicted of possessing child pornography in California, the prosecution must prove that you:
- Knowingly possessed the image(s), and
- Knew the image depicted someone under the age of 18
So, if a teenager sends an explicit photo of him or herself to someone who did not ask for the photo, the recipient can only be convicted of possessing child pornography if he or she knew the message had been sent and what it contained. If the recipient did not know that the sender was sending an explicit photo and did not check his or her messages to see it, that person will not likely be convicted of possessing child pornography.
Contact the Sex Crimes Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Child pornography cases are extremely complex, especially when it comes to minors sending explicit photos. That is why you should contact an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer if you are accused of a child pornography crime. At Wallin & Klarich, we have over 35 years of experience successfully defending clients accused of child pornography crimes. We’ve helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need and we can help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich child pornography attorney available no matter where you work or live.
Contact us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.