Is There a Difference Between Distributing Pornographic Material and Possessing It?

David Lindsey, Attorney at Law
distributing pornographic material

There is a big difference between possessing pornographic material and distributing pornographic material.

Distributing pornography is a serious crime that can lead to severe penalties, including jail time. Possessing pornography, on the other hand, is not necessarily a crime. Although it may be considered one if the possession is found to be part of a larger distribution scheme.

What should you know if you are facing criminal charges related to pornographic material?

Possessing Pornographic Material

It is not a crime in the United States to possess legal pornographic material.

In the United States, pornographic material is defined as anything depicting sexual activity or nudity in a manner intended to cause sexual arousal or excitement. This includes both real and simulated images of sexual activity, as well as nudity.

It wasn’t until 1977 that officials made an effort to ban the production and dissemination of pornographic materials featuring children. Before that, only two states had laws prohibiting the use of minors in pornographic performances or materials.

Under current-day federal law, it is a crime to possess, distribute, or produce non-fictional child pornography. Anyone accused of doing so is at risk of large fines and prison sentences. This could mean up to 30 years upon conviction.

Additionally, they must register as a sex offender.

What Should I Do If I’m Accused of Possessing or Distributing Illegal Porn?

It is a crime to possess or distribute illegal porn in the United States.

Distributing illegal pornographic material means you’re committing two crimes – possessing illegal porn and distributing it to other people.

Keep in mind, possession of child pornography, either on your computer or in tangible form, without distributing it is still a serious crime. It puts you at risk of a lengthy stint in Federal Prison depending on the particular facts of the case. You must contact an experienced child pornography attorney as soon as you suspect you are under investigation.

Your potential time in prison increases under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines when there’s a conviction of distribution, in addition to possession.

It’s also important to remember that accessing peer-to-peer networks to view illegal porn could put you at risk of severer penalties. Many people who use these networks do not realize that accessing these networks allows other users to download files from their computers. You might not intend to share (distribute) pornographic materials, but you could still face increased penalties when using these networks.

The legal elements of distribution could be met if another member, or the government, accesses illegal pornographic material from your computer through one of these networks.

If you’ve been accused of possession or distribution of illegal pornography you need a lawyer. It’s best to work with someone familiar with child pornography laws who understands the severity of the charges you’re facing. An experienced attorney can complete an investigation including a forensic evaluation of your computer.

To learn more or to speak to someone who can help you if you’ve been accused of possessing or distributing illegal porn, contact David Lindsey.

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