Being accused of viewing or possessing child pornography can wreak havoc on your reputation and your personal relationships. You face prosecution for a state or federal sex offense, and if convicted, you will likely serve years in prison followed by registration as an Oklahoma Sex Offender.
Clearly, Oklahoma law and federal law strive to protect children from sexual exploitation, but not every item branded as “child pornography” is as deviant as it seems. In fact, the United States government, and therefore the Oklahoma legislature, considers child pornography to be sexual depictions of anyone under the age of 18. In Oklahoma, the age of consent is 16. This means that a person in a consensual sexual relationship with a person aged 16 or 17 could not have sexually explicit pictures or video of his or her paramour without being in possession of child pornography. Under current law, this even pertains to teens involved in sexting, if they are under the age of 18 and possess or distribute images of their same-age peers.
Regardless of the circumstances that led to your accusation or investigation for possession of child pornography, you need immediate legal counsel and swift defense representation. The penalties of conviction are severe, and the stigma of being branded a pedophile or sex offender can follow you for life.
In the Oklahoma Criminal Code, Title 21 of the state statutes, there are multiple laws pertaining to the possession, distribution, and production of child pornography.
Section 1024.1 defines child pornography as any visual depiction or individual image of a minor under the age of 18 engaged in sexual activity with anyone other than his or her own spouse. Specifically prohibited acts include:
Child pornography can be stored or possessed in any number of formats. Often these are stored as files on computers, cell phones, or other mobile devices. However, it can also include film, video, negatives or undeveloped film, photos, photo reproductions, or even live performance.
Section 1024.2 prohibits any person from buying, procuring, or possessing child pornography. For possession of a single image of child pornography, a person is subject to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
However, each image, or even each copy of an individual image, is counted as a separate offense. If a person has a single picture of his or her minor girlfriend stored on a home computer, on his or her cell phone, and printed and kept in his or her wallet, it would be considered possession of three separate items of child pornography.
Other statutes dealing with the production, possession, or distribution of child pornography prescribe more severe penalties. Section 1021.2 states:
“Any person who shall procure or cause the participation of any minor under the age of eighteen (18) years in any child pornography or who knowingly possesses, procures, or manufactures, or causes to be sold or distributed any child pornography shall be guilty, upon conviction, of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than twenty (20) years or by the imposition of a fine of not more than Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) or by both said fine and imprisonment. “
Defendants sentenced according to this statute are not eligible for a deferred sentence.
Under 1040.12a, possession of 100 or more items of child pornography—including multiple copies of the same image—is aggravated possession of child pornography. It is a felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Since the introduction of the internet and the explosion of mobile technology, there has been an exponential increase in prosecution of child pornography offenses. For some, the seeming anonymity of the internet makes it easier to cross the line from viewing legal, adult pornography to viewing child pornography. With instant messaging, texting, and SMS apps like SnapChat, it has become easy for teens and adults to impulsively send sexually explicit images.
Downloading child pornography or distributing child pornography through file-sharing sites is not only a sex offense, but also a computer crime. The Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act makes it a criminal offense to use a computer or computer network to violate any state law. If a person is caught downloading child pornography or distributing child pornography via computer, then he or she will be additionally charged with violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act. This is a separate felony offense that carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine in addition to the penalties associated with conviction of possession or distribution of child pornography.
Depending on the specific offense or offense with which a person is convicted, a child pornography conviction requires sex offender registration for a period of 15 years, 25 years, or life.
In general, the purchase, procurement, possession, publication, or distribution of child pornography is a Level 1 sex offense that mandates sex offender registration for 15 years, with the offender providing annual address verification to local law enforcement.
However, procuring or causing minors to participate in child pornography is a Level 2 sex offense. Anyone convicted of a violation of 21 O.S. 1021.2 must register as an Oklahoma Sex Offender for 25 years, providing address verification every six months.
If a person is convicted of a second or subsequent sexual offense involving minors—including a second child pornography conviction—he or she is considered a habitual offender and must register as a Level 3 sex offender for life. Those subject to lifetime sex offender registration must provide address verification to local law enforcement every 90 days.
There are a number of viable defense options to counter a child pornography charge. Often, a child pornography charge occurs when a defendant is accused of sharing sexually explicit images of minors with an undercover officer, such as an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force member. In such a case, the prosecution must prove not only that the images came from the defendant’s computer, but that the defendant knowingly and willfully distributed child pornography.
In order to find out what defense strategies may be available to you, consult attorney Ryan Coventon at Coventon Law for a confidential, risk-free evaluation of your case.