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16 Commonly Asked Questions About Child Pornography Offenses

Experienced Houston child porn defense attorney Neal Davis provides quick answers

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If you or someone in your family faces a criminal charge of possession or distribution of child pornography, you probably have a lot of questions. Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions about child pornography from the knowledgeable Texas child porn defense lawyers at the Neal Davis Law Firm.

If you have another question that isn’t answered below, or would like more information, contact us anytime for expert answers.

What is child porn in Texas?

Texas child porn laws define child pornography as visual material which depicts a child engaging in sexual conduct. Texas Penal Code Ann. § 43.26(a) defines child porn as follows:

A person commits an offense if:
(1) the person knowingly or intentionally possesses, or knowingly or intentionally accesses with intent to view, visual material that visually depicts a child younger than 18 years of age at the time the image of the child was made who is engaging in sexual conduct, including a child who engages in sexual conduct as a victim of an offense under Section 20A.02(a)(5), (6), (7), or (8); and
(2) the person knows that the material depicts the child as described by Subdivision (1).

What is a child under Texas law?

Anyone under 18 years of age is legally considered a minor and unable to consent to sex. For child porn law purposes, that means the person would have been under 18 at the time they were depicted in visual material of a sexual nature.

What is illegal when it comes to viewing or having child porn?

Having or seeing child porn can be illegal in several ways, including child pornography possession, child pornography receiving, child pornography producing, and child pornography distribution/promotion. Continue reading to learn more about what is illegal to view on the internet.

What constitutes possessing child porn?

Possession of child porn under Texas law means “actual care, custody, control or management.” This could include having any physical or digital photos and videos in your possession or on a computer you own.

What does it mean to “receive” child porn?

Receiving is when a person acquires or accesses child porn by any means. This can include opening a website which has child porn images. Even if the images are not downloaded, the viewer is in receipt of them and has access to them.

How is producing child porn defined by Texas law?

Producing child porn means creating it. Under Texas Penal Code § 21.15, it is illegal to videotape, photograph, broadcast, transmit or record any visual image of a child without the consent of the child and with the intent to sexually gratify or arouse another person. That might include taking a video or photo of a child in a store fitting room or in a bathroom.

What does distribution or promotion of child porn mean?

It means that a person sends, sells, markets or otherwise distributes child porn material to others, by any means. Sending a digital file with images of child porn is considered distribution child porn. Such distribution can be for payment, but whether or not money changes hands doesn’t matter. It’s still distribution, and still considered a crime under Texas law.


Are there federal child porn laws and charges?

Yes. In fact, you could be prosecuted for the same child porn sex crime under both Texas child porn laws and federal child porn laws.

How severe are Texas punishments for child porn?

Texas child porn punishments can be very severe. Possession of child porn is a third degree felony with fines of as much as $10,000 and a sentence to two to 10 years in prison. Distributing child porn is a second degree felony with fines of up to $10,000 and a two- to 20-year prison sentence.

If the child is 13 or younger, the charge becomes a first degree felony, with a prison sentence of five to 99 years. Such a conviction could mean the individual will be required to register for life as a sex offender.

What are defenses against child porn charges?

Depending on the charge, there are many defenses against child porn charges. A skilled defense lawyer can help choose the best defense strategy.

For instance, your attorney can determine if someone else had access to your computer and then viewed or downloaded child porn on it without your permission or knowledge. Or they can determine that you used an unsecured or shared network, which may have allowed others to download child pornography without your knowledge.

How vulnerable is my computer as evidence?

The vulnerability of your computer as evidence may depend on expert testimony in court. This testimony may be used to establish if you or someone zoomed in on images, copied images to a hard drive or intentionally deleted images from a computer cache file. It may be difficult for prosecutors to determine that you actually viewed images in the cache.

Can police seize my computer?

Yes. Police can get a search warrant to seize your computer and your cell phone. But that doesn’t mean they can actively search these devices. You have the legal right not to reveal a password or encryption key to unlock such devices, even if they were part of a search warrant.

You can do this by “pleading the fifth” (referring to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution), which prohibits self-incrimination. Keep in mind that such action doesn’t constitute admitting guilt.

Could I be arrested simply for searching for child porn?

Yes. Even if you don’t download it, an active search for child porn can show an intent to commit the crime of viewing or possessing child porn.

What if child porn accidentally appeared on my computer?

You may have a viable defense by virtue of having inadvertently seen child porn on your computer via emails, pop-up ads and other means. People often see things on their computer that they didn’t actively or intentionally seek.

What should I do if I accidentally receive unsolicited child pornography?

By federal law you should contact law enforcement officials. If you fail to do so, you could face prosecution for receiving or possessing child porn.

Where can I find a child porn defense lawyer?

You’ve come to the right place. The Neal Davis Law Firm has extensive knowledge and experience handling numerous child porn cases, including federal child porn offenses. You need the best child porn defense lawyers in Texas. Contact us today for your free case review.

Possession of Child Pornography: Texas Criminal Defense

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