Lansing Child Pornography Possession and Distribution Charges
Children are among the most vulnerable members of Lansing and are carefully protected by Michigan's legal code. The possession or distribution of child pornography carries a very high penalty, and the damage to one's reputation becomes obvious before charges are even properly filed. If you have been charged with the possession, distribution, or other related child pornography charge, it is imperative that you seek the legal counsel of an experienced Lansing sex offense attorney as soon as possible.
What Is Child Pornography Possession and Distribution?
Any visual medium that shows a child or someone who appears to be a child depicted in a sexually-explicit way is considered child pornography. Note that unlike the “age of consent” for other sexual acts, which is 16 by Michigan law, a “child” for purposes of pornography is anyone under 18, unless the minor is emancipated.
In previous decades, possession and distribution was more straightforward, and included owning or distributing films, pictures, magazines, and similar forms of hard media. However, in recent years, pornographic internet sites and the emergence of “sexting” has revolutionized both the pornographic industry and the criminal law surrounding it. Today, for example, not only can a man be accused of child pornography who is caught with incriminating magazines in his home, but teenagers who text each other sexually-explicit pictures of themselves can also be charged with possession or distribution.
Furthermore, modified photographs and computer-generated images that are not actual children, but which are indistinguishable from children are also considered child pornography. Neither real nor simulated “children” have to actually engage in a sexual activity. Images of a sexually-explicit nature, including nude pictures, satisfy the criteria for pornography.
In Lansing, as in the rest of Michigan, “possession” includes not only owning child pornography (such as pornographic magazines, films, etc.), but also seeking and accessing it on the internet.
“Distribution” includes physical and internet distribution, as well as promotion, financing, preparation, or a conspired or attempted distribution of child pornography.
What About 1st Amendment Rights?
One common argument usually made is that the Constitution guarantees people the right to a free press and freedom of expression. However, child pornography is not protected by the U.S. or Michigan Constitution. Michigan Penal Code §750.145c(4) and §750.145c(3) as well as 18 U.S.C. § 2252 (the Federal code) both prohibit possession and distribution of such materials.
How Am I Charged?
Because child pornography is both a Michigan crime and a Federal crime (a condition known as “dual sovereignty”), it may be prosecuted by the state, the federal government, or both. In some instances, the federal government will defer to Michigan and step in only if the prosecution fails. In other instances, Michigan will defer to the federal government. However, in some circumstances, you could be facing both state and federal charges and have to go through two prosecutions for the same crime. (This is not considered double-jeopardy because the state and federal government are different “sovereigns.” or spheres of authority.)
Because dual sovereignty is so complex and your outcome so vital, it's important that you retain an experienced and aggressive attorney immediately upon receiving your charges. The wrong choice now or during the course of your case could impact the rest of your life.
What Is The Penalty?
Anyone who is convicted of possessing child pornography can receive up to 4 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine under Michigan law. Under U.S. law, he can receive up to 10 years in prison if the child is over 12 or 20 years in prison if the child is under 12.
A Lansing distributor is punished even more harshly, with Michigan law allowing up to 7 years in prison and a $50,000 fine and U.S. law mandating between 5 and 20 years for a first offense and 15 to 40 years for a subsequent offense.
Sex Offender Registry
In addition to prison time and possible fines, individuals who are convicted of possession or distribution of child pornography must appear on the Sex Offender Registry (SOR) and Public Sex Offender Registry (PSOR), which releases relevant data from the SOR to Lansing citizens and anyone else who cares to access the database.
The information will include your:
- Registration details
- Physical characteristics, including identifying scars and tattoos
- Offense details
- Home address
- School information
- Employment information
- Vehicle information
If you are convicted of possession, you will have to register annually for 15 years. If you're convicted of distribution, you will have to register twice a year for 25 years. In either case, you will have to update the registry anytime you move, change jobs, enter, leave, or change schools, and more.
How Can Grabel and Associates Help?
Child pornography charges are extremely serious and can put in jeopardy with both the Michigan and Federal courts. Charges and convictions of possessing and distributing child pornography come with harsh consequences, so if you are facing one of these related charges, do not feel like you have to face them alone.
Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your case at 1-800-342-7896. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you navigate the intricacies of your case. Use our contact form to set up a free consultation.