December 1, 2015 By Stephen Klarich
defining harmful material
Defining harmful material is important to understand PC 288.2.

In California, it is a crime to distribute harmful material to minors. California Penal Code Section 288.2(a) and (b) provides the language “harmful material” but does not give a definition. So what exactly does “harmful material” mean?

Distributing Harmful Material to Minors (PC 288.2)

In order to convict you of the crime of distributing harmful material to minors under PC 288.2, the prosecution must convince the jury that the material at issue could be harmful. To meet the definition of harmful material, the material must 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 average adult person, applying contemporary statewide standards, would conclude it appeals to prurient interest

A “prurient interest” is a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex or excretion. “Material,” as used in Section 288.2, means any book, magazine, newspaper, video recording, or other printed or written material. It can also be any picture, drawing, photograph, motion picture, or other pictorial representation or any statue or other figure, recording, transcription, or mechanical, chemical, or electrical reproduction. Material also includes live or recorded telephone messages when transmitted or distributed as part of a commercial transaction.

Defining Harmful Material Laws

harmful material
Harmful material is different in modern times.

There are several other legal terms defined under PC 288.2 that must be made clear if you are being accused of the crime. For instance, “applying contemporary statewide standards” means that the average person using present-day standards and attitudes would find the impact of the material harmful on the average person in statewide community. The law often uses the average person standard, which leaves the law open to interpretation by times. The average person is different in 1950 than in 2015. Factors such as gender, religious views, age, educational and economical level, race and perspectives are considered when determining what the average person would think.

The contemporary statewide standard means what is acceptable to the statewide community as a whole, not what a single person or persons may believe the community ought to accept. The test the jury must apply is not what it finds offensive based on its own personal, social or moral views. Instead, the material must be judged by an objective determination of what would offend the statewide community as a whole.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

If you are accused of distributing harmful material to a minor under PC 288.2, you face serious criminal consequences. You could face jail time and expensive fines. That is why you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Walin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending our clients facing child pornography charges for over 30 years. Let us help you now.

With offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, West Covina, Sherman Oaks, Victorville and Torrance, our criminal lawyers can help you wherever you happen to live or work.

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Confidential Consult
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

SCHEDULE YOUR free consultation

If you or a loved one have been accused of a sex crime, this is the time to contact us.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.