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If you are accused of being involved with possessing, receiving, or distributing child pornography, whether or not you have been charged with a crime yet, contact a child pornography lawyer immediately. The police and prosecutors in North Carolina take allegations of child pornography very seriously, whether the allegations against you involve minimal possession, the sale of materials, or the creation of child porn. Any evidence that you are involved in the sexual exploitation of minors can lead to child porn charges or other sex offenses. Most of these crimes are felonies, and if you are convicted, require sex offender registration.

At Randall & Stump, PLLC, our sex crimes lawyers know how high the stakes are when you are accused of child pornography. These accusations can tarnish your reputation and change your life immediately. A conviction can put your education, career, and family life on hold for years. For these reasons and many more, we are here to defend you aggressively. We firmly believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and are not afraid to go up against prosecutors in court.

To discuss how we can help, call us at 980-237-4579 or use our online form. We offer free and confidential investigations.

North Carolina Child Pornography Laws

North Carolina does not have a statute labeled “child pornography.” Instead, the state breaks down unlawful conduct regarding child pornography into different degrees of sexual exploitation of a minor:

First Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (NCGS 14-190.16)

You may be charged with this crime if, knowing the character or content of the material or performance, you:

  • Use, employ, induce, coerce, encourage, or help a minor engage in or assist others to engage in sexual activity for a live performance or for the purpose of producing a visual representation of the activity, such as photos or video;
  • Permit a minor under your custody or control to engage in sexual activity for a live performance or for producing a visual representation of the activity;
  • Transport or finance the transportation of a minor through or across North Carolina with the intent for that child to engage in sexual activity for a live performance or producing a visual representation; or
  • Record, photograph, film, develop, or duplicate for sale, or other pecuniary gain, material that contains a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity.

If you are accused of any of these actions, you will face a Class C felony. Sex offenses that are Class B1 through E and require sex offender registration have higher maximum penalties.

The presumptive ranges for a Class C felony sex offense are:

  • Level I: 58 to 130 months
  • Level II: 67 to 141 months
  • Level III: 77 to 153 months
  • Level IV: 88 to 166 months
  • Level V: 101 to 182 months
  • Level VI: 117 to 201 months

Second Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (NCGS 14-190.17)

Second-degree exploitation of a minor encompasses when you, knowing the character or content of the material:

  • Record, photograph, film, develop, or duplicate material that contains a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity, or
  • Distribute, transport, exhibit, receive, sell, purchase, exchange, or ask for materials that contain a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity.

As a Class E felony sex offense that requires sex offender registration upon conviction, you will be subject to higher maximum penalties. Sex offenses charged between Class E and B1 felonies which are subject to registration have higher maximums.

The presumptive ranges of incarceration for a Class E sex offense include:

  • Level I: 20 to 84 months
  • Level II: 23 to 88 months
  • Level III: 26 to 92 months
  • Level IV: 30 to 96 months
  • Level V: 35 to 102 months
  • Level VI: 40 to 108 months

Third Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (NCGS 14-190.17A)

You can be charged with third-degree exploitation of a minor if you, knowing the character or content of the material, possess materials that contain a visual representation of a minor engaging in sexual activity.

Mere possession of child pornography is a Class H felony.

  • Level I: 5 to 6 month
  • Level II: 6 to 8 months
  • Level III: 8 to 10 months
  • Level IV: 9 to 11 months
  • Level V: 12 to 15 months
  • Level VI: 16 to 20 months

This level of a felony is not subject to the higher maximums for sex offenses. If there are aggravating factors present, the maximum term of incarceration increases.

Sex Offender Registration & Other Consequences

If you are convicted of violating one or more child porn laws, then you will be required to register as a sex offender. All degrees of sexual exploitation of a minor are considered sexually violent offenses and require registration for at least 30 years. This means for three decades after you are released from confinement, your name, address, picture, and crime will be easily available to the public online. Throughout this time, you will be subject to many restrictions that limit your freedom. These can diminish your career, relationships, and ability to make a life for yourself in a community.

With a sex offense on your permanent record and the registration requirement, you will face additional challenges including:

  • Continuing your education
  • Obtaining certain professional licenses
  • Finding and maintaining a job
  • Maintaining or renewing your immigration status
  • Maintaining child custody and visitation
  • Renting an apartment or house
  • Obtaining personal loans
  • Loss of your right to own a firearm

If possible, you want to avoid sex offender registration, and the best way to do this is to work with an aggressive defense attorney.

Federal Child Pornography Charges

In some situations, you may receive federal charges for child pornography. The federal authorities will have jurisdiction if they believe that your crime took place in more than one state, involved materials from outside of the United States or an Indian reservation, or used federal agencies to transport the materials, such as the U.S. Mail.

Federal penalties depend on the severity of your offense and any prior offenses. Manufacturing child pornography can result in up to 30 years in prison. A second conviction may result in up to 50 years in prison. Distributing and selling child pornography can result in up to 20 years in prison, with subsequent convictions resulting in up to 40 years in prison. Even accessing child pornography can result in up to 10 years in prison. That term increases if the minor depicted is less than 12 years old.

It can be difficult to defend against federal child pornography charges. However, with a skilled attorney by your side, we will fight to protect your rights, freedoms, and reputation against harsh accusations.

Child Pornography Defense

If you have been charged with a child pornography crime, whatever the degree, you need to speak with an experienced child pornography attorney. There may be one or more defenses available to you, such as:

  • The material in question is not pornography.
  • You have been falsely accused.
  • The files containing child pornography are not yours.
  • The files were placed on your device by accident and you lacked intent to possess child porn.
  • You were unaware there was child porn on your device.
  • You were coerced into being involved with the crime.
  • Entrapment by a law enforcement officer.
  • You were subject to an unconstitutional search and seizure.

North Carolina law specifically states that mistake of age is not a defense. You cannot create, obtain, sell, distribute, duplicate, or possess materials depicting a minor in sexual situations and claim that you though the adolescent depicted was over 18 years old. However, if you trusted legal documentation that told you the minor was over 18 years old, we may utilize this fact within you defense strategy.