February 19, 2019

What happens if you send pornography to a minor? Is it a crime to show pornography to a person under the age of 18?

Under California Penal Code Section 288.2, it is illegal to send harmful matter to a minor with the intent of seducing that minor. So, what constitutes “harmful matter?”

The Elements of Sending Harmful Matter to Seduce a Minor (PC 288.2)

In order for you to be convicted of the crime of sending harmful matter to seduce a minor, the prosecution must prove all of the following elements:

  • You distributed, sent or exhibited harmful matter to a minor in any form
  • You knew the recipient was a minor or did not take reasonable effort to determine the age of the recipient
  • You had the specific intent to arouse the lust, passions or sexual desires of yourself and/or the minor when you sent the material, AND
  • You had the specific intent to seduce the minor or entice the minor into engaging in a physical sexual act with you

What is “Harmful Matter” under PC 288.2?

For content to be considered “harmful” under PC 288.2, it must meet the following criteria:

  • It shows or describes sexual conduct in an obviously offensive way
  • A reasonable person would conclude that it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors, AND
  • An reasonable adult person, applying contemporary statewide standards, would conclude the material appeals to prurient interests

“Prurient interests” is a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex or excretion.

Under PC 288.2, harmful matter can be a book, magazine, pictures, newspaper, video recording or any printed or written material.

Penalties for Violating PC 288.2

The crime of sending harmful matter to a minor is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the facts of the case and your prior criminal history (if any).

A misdemeanor conviction for sending harmful material to a minor is punishable by up to six months in county jail and fines of up to $1,000. A felony conviction carries up to three years in state prison and fines of up to $10,000. You may also be required to register as a sex offender under PC 290 if you are convicted of this crime.

Defenses to Sending Harmful Matter to a Minor Charges

Our experienced sex crimes defense attorneys have used numerous strategies to successfully defend our clients who faced charges under PC 288.2. Some of the most common valid legal defenses to this charge include:

  • The matter was not harmful – Sometimes, “harmful” could be open to interpretation. Our attorneys may be able to show that the material you sent does not qualify as “harmful matter.”
  • The matter had a scientific or educational purpose – If the material served a legitimate scientific or educational purpose, you should not be convicted of this crime.
  • You had no intent to seduce the minor – If you had no intent to seduce the minor when you sent the “harmful matter,” your attorney may have a valid legal defense to the charges against you.

Contact a Skilled Sex Crimes Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or someone you love has been accused of sending harmful matter to seduce a minor under PC 288.2, it is important that you speak to an experienced sex crimes attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled sex crimes attorneys have more than 35 years of experience successfully defending clients facing serious sex crime charges. Let us help you now.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich sex crimes attorney available near you no matter where you are located.

Call our law firm today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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