Activities related to child pornography such as photographing, filming and possessing child pornography are prohibited by Pennsylvania state law and federal law. The mere accusation of a child pornography crime can cause the accused to live with a social stigma in addition to facing legal consequences. A conviction for a child pornography offense in Pennsylvania carries serious penalties and if it involves the internet, the convicted may face stiff federal penalties as well.
Pennsylvania prohibits the photographing, videotaping, depicting on a computer or filming of children under the age of 18 engaging in a prohibited sexual act or simulating such an act. Conviction for this offense constitutes a felony of the second degree and may carry a sentence of imprisonment for up to ten years.
The dissemination of photographs, videotapes, computer depictions and films depicting children under the age of 18 engaging in a prohibited sexual act or the simulation of such an act is also prohibited under Pennsylvania statute. Those convicted for this offense will be punished for a felony of the third degree and will face up to five years' imprisonment.
Possession of child pornography is also illegal in Pennsylvania. Anyone who intentionally views or knowingly possess prohibited materials violates state law and will be guilty of a third-degree felony. Those convicted for a first offense for the viewing, possession or distribution of child pornography will be subject to up to five years in prison. Subsequent offenses will be classified as a third-degree felony and will carry a prison term of up to ten years.
Pennsylvania also has mandatory sex offender registration for certain offenses. A future post will discuss the Megan's Law requirements as well as some legal exceptions that are available to the falsely accused.