Penalties for Possession of Child Pornography in Texas

If you or a family member face a charge of possession of child pornography in Texas, you should know the about the strict penalties involved — and how important it is to engage an experienced child porn defense lawyer.

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Depending on the circumstances and severity of the offense, child porn possession can lead to a number of different punishments, including fines, court costs, imprisonment, restitution for victims, probation and mandatory registration as a sex offender for life.

Specifically, you could spend 2 to 10 years in state prison and pay up to a $10,000 fine for possession of child porn in Texas, which is a third degree felony.

And the punishments get even worse depending on certain factors that may pertain to your offense.

Child Porn Sentence Factors

The Texas penalties and punishments for possession or promotion of child pornography are clearly outlined in the Texas Penal Code (Title 9, Section 43.26).

Intent to distribute

If you distribute or intend to distribute child porn images, Texas penalties can be 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Prior offenses

Also, the penalties increase if you have previous convictions. A person facing a child porn charge after one prior conviction of possessing child porn can face second degree felony punishments. And a person with two or more prior convictions can face first degree felony punishments.

Age of victim

The age of the child involved in the sexual imagery can also increase the punishments. When a child depicted or shown in child porn is younger than 14 years of age, the charge for possession increases to a first degree felony. The sentence can then be 5 to 99 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Such stricter punishments happen frequently, since over 66 percent of children in child porn are 10 years old or even younger.

Sexting and Selfies Can Be Child Porn, Too

Clearly, possession of child porn is a serious crime with serious punishments in Texas. Even the so-called “sexting” of sexual images between teens can be considered a misdemeanor child porn sex crime in this state. Even a “selfie” can be considered child pornography.

However, when it comes to online sexting, Texas laws protect minors who share sexual images with each other while in a dating relationship, who don’t share those images with others, and are no more than 2 years apart in age. Texas sexting laws hold that such minors face a Class C misdemeanor charge with a fine of no more than $200 for an initial offense.

When Federal Child Porn Laws Apply

When sizing up these and other Texas child porn laws, keep in mind that you can also face a federal charge for possessing, producing or distributing child porn.

Depending on the nature of the offense, producing child porn can lead to a federal prison sentence of 15 to 30 years, even for a first-time offender. As for offenders with prior convictions or those who produce violent or sadistic images, they can face life in prison under federal child porn laws.

These crimes are established by federal law since images of child pornography are NOT protected by First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. In fact, under federal law, child porn images don’t necessarily have to feature a child engaged in sexual activity to be considered illegal child porn.

Federal law, as with Texas law, holds that a minor, or child, is someone under the age of 18.

Child Porn Stings Sometimes Net Innocent People

Unfortunately, innocent Americans often are rounded up in widespread sex or child porn “sting” operations by local, state and federal authorities who use the Internet to snare suspected offenders. Such child porn stings have made child porn charges common in the Houston area.

Hiring a Texas Child Porn Defense Lawyer

Whatever you do, when considering a defense lawyer in Texas, keep in mind that some attorneys with little to no experience in sex crimes often claim to be experts in these cases. Often, these are DWI lawyers claiming to be sex crime lawyers to expand their business since DWI arrests are declining.

By contrast, the child porn defense lawyers at the Neal Davis Law Firm have years of experience helping individuals facing charges of child porn to fight for their legal rights. Often, that means defending our client who has been falsely accused of the sex crime by applying various child porn defense strategies.

Such strategies can include establishing entrapment by law authorities, illegal search and seizure by law officers, or lack of intent by the defendant (such as when another person places child porn images on an individual’s computer).

Our attorneys are knowledgeable and skilled in providing an effective sex crime legal defense. We can fight to have a child porn charge reduced or even dropped before trial, or fight for our client’s legal rights in the courtroom if the case does proceed to trial.

If you or a loved one faces a child porn charge in Houston, Harris County, Montgomery County or Fort Bend County, contact us today for a confidential legal review of your particular case. Then, you can decide how you want to proceed.

Possession of Child Pornography: Texas Criminal Defense

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