Under California Penal Code section 311.11, it is illegal to knowingly possess or control any material that depicts a person under the age of 18 years engaging in or simulating sexual conduct. Any one who is convicted of violating Penal Code section 311.11 is guilty of a felony, which is punishable by up to 3 years in state prison or up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

In addition to a jail or prison sentence and a fine, you will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. (PC 290). A recent California Court of Appeals case examined whether a person convicted of possession of child pornography faces mandatory sex offender registration under Penal Code 290.

Shoemaker v. Harris

Following his conviction of misdemeanor possession of child pornography in 2004, defendant, Stephen Shoemaker, filed a lawsuit against the State of California alleging that the mandatory sex offender registration requirements of Penal Code section 290 denies him equal protection of the law. He argued that mandatory sex offender registration should not be required for Penal Code section 311 convictions, but rather discretionary registration.

If you have been accused of possession of child pornography, you should contact a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney at (877) 4-NO-JAIL
If you are convicted of possession of child pornography, you must register as a sex offender and follow all of the requirements of sex offender registration.

Shoemaker claimed that Penal Code section 290 violated his equal protection rights because the statute required mandatory lifetime sex offender registration for possession of child pornography, but others convicted of far worse sex crimes involving minors are only subject to discretionary sex offender registration under Penal Code section 290. He pointed to seven other misdemeanor offenses allowing for discretionary registration, including:

• PC 313.1 – Distributing or exhibiting “harmful matter” to a minor

• PC 288.2 – Knowingly distributing “harmful matter” to a minor intending to arouse the minor for the purpose of seducing the minor

• PC 261.5 – Sexual intercourse with a minor

• PC 273g – Engaging in degrading, lewd, immoral, or vicious habits or practices in the presence of a child

• PC 288a – Oral Copulation with a minor

• PC 309 – Keeping a minor in a house used for prostitution; AND

• Lab. Code 1308(a)(3) – knowingly procuring a minor for an obscene, indecent, or immoral purpose.

Shoemaker claimed that each of these seven offenses “involve greater, ongoing, and more direct long-term harm to its minor victims.”

The California Court of Appeal ruled against Shoemaker’s equal protection claims. The court stated that offenses for possession of child pornography involve a different sort of conduct than the seven offenses that Shoemaker cited. Since Shoemaker’s offense and the offenses that only require discretionary sex offender registration are different, the court held that mandatory sex offender registration did not violate his equal protection rights.

Future Possession of Child Pornography Cases

The Court of Appeals decision in Shoemaker v. Harris affirms the California legislature’s ability to require mandatory sex offender registration for a conviction of possession of child pornography. Thus, if you are convicted of possession of child pornography, you must register as a sex offender and follow all of the requirements of sex offender registration.

Sex Crimes Defense Attorney

If you have been accused of possession of child pornography, you should contact a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, we know that a conviction for possession of child pornography can have a long-term effect on your life. For over 30 years, we have been helping clients faced with accusations of possession of child pornography avoid a lengthy prison sentence and stay off of the sex offender registry. Our offices are located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Venture, Victorville, Torrance, Sherman Oaks, and West Covina. Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL. We will be there when you call.

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