Guide To Navigating Child Pornography Charge

Last Modified: January 22, 2024

Child pornography charges are serious. Our top rated attorneys can help you navigate your case. View our guide to defense.

Los Angeles Child Pornography Attorneys

California Penal Code 311 PC is the state law defining child pornography and punishing offenders. Penal Code 311 PC bans the possession or distribution of child pornography. Certainly, given the notoriety of child pornography allegations, persons accused of child pornography offenses may have an uphill battle. But Los Angeles child pornography attorneys are prepared to mount a vigorous defense for those falsely accused of child pornography offenses.

Persons who may have inadvertently, unknowingly or unintentionally come into possession of child pornography are entitled to have their day in court and clear their names.

What is Child Pornography Under Penal Code 311 PC?

Penal Code 311 PC defines child pornography in California as any film, picture, videotape or computer-generated image which shows minors (in California, those under 18 years of age) engaging in real or simulated sexual conduct.

Under Penal Code 311, it is a criminal offense to knowingly send, transport, produce, possess or duplicate child pornography.

The California Penal Code also prohibits the knowing development, duplication, printing or exchanging of child pornography.

It is also illegal in California to advertise child pornography for sale.

Lastly, it is a crime in California to knowingly hire, employ, use, persuade or coerce a minor to make child pornography.

What Are the Penalties for Child Pornography Violations?

Depending on the facts of a particular case, child pornography can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Conviction on misdemeanor child pornography charges can mean up to one year in county jail and a fine up to $2, 000. It also means placement on California’s sex offender registry for 10 years (Tier One).

Conviction of felony child pornography offenses carries with it imprisonment up to eight years and fines up to $100,000. It also means placement on the sex offender registry for life (Tier Three).

Prosecutors may seek felony child pornography charges if the pornography in question is obscene; that is, if it is particularly offensive, has no artistic or societal value and an average California adult would agree it appeals to a prurient interest.

A person who creates, possesses or distributes child pornography intending to sell it may face felony charges.

Lastly, prosecutors may file felony charges against a person who shows child pornography to a minor.

What are the Defenses to Child Pornography Charges?

Experienced Los Angeles child pornography lawyers recognize that, notwithstanding the notoriety of child pornography charges and the related abuse of children, there are many viable defenses to charges of child pornography.

The defendant did not have child pornography

In order to successfully prosecute someone on child pornography charges, the allegedly pornographic pictures, video, etc., have to meet the legal definition of child pornography. For instance, the makers of a video could advertise it as a video of two 16-year-olds having sex. But if the “actors” were actually 19-year-olds, the video is not child pornography.

In order to be considered child pornography, the image or video must be of an actual minor. Sketches, drawings or animations of minors having sex are not child pornography.

Likewise, movies rated by the Motion Picture Association of America are exempt from California’s child pornography laws.

The defendant did not act knowingly

To be convicted of child pornography offenses, the defendant must act knowingly. If the defendant mistakenly linked to a child pornography website, he did not knowingly possess child pornography. If someone maliciously sent the defendant an email with multiple attachments, one of which contained an image or video containing child pornography, and the defendant did not realize that, she did not knowingly commit a child pornography offense.

The film or images depicting child pornography were being used for a legitimate purpose

If the purported child pornography was actually made for legitimate scientific, medical or educational purposes, the film or images do not meet the legal definition of child pornography.

The police unlawfully seized the child pornography material

Federal and state search and seizure rules and case law apply to child pornography cases. If government investigators improperly conducted searches of the defendant’s property and/or unlawfully seized the allegedly child pornography material, experienced California criminal defense lawyers will request the court to toss out the improperly seized evidence.


Entrapment is a recognized defense to child pornography charges. If the police excessively used pressure, threats or fraud to induce the defendant to violate Penal Code 311 PC, the defendant may have legitimate arguments they entrapped him; but for the actions of government agents, he would not have violated the child pornography laws.

Contact Us About Child Pornography Charges

Being convicted of child pornography charges can lead to years in jail, substantial fines and placement on the sex offender registry. Just being charged with child pornography violations can lead to job losses, disruption of family life and loss of friends. Therefore, persons facing child pornography charges should immediately contact experienced Los Angeles child pornography attorneys. Daniel Perlman and Matthew Cohen are experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Perlman & Cohen. They have appeared for years on behalf of clients in all types of criminal cases in Los Angeles courts, including child pornography cases.

If you or a loved one are facing child pornography charges, Perlman & Cohen will stand by you as they investigate, collect all relevant evidence and find witnesses who may be helpful to your defense. In appropriate cases, they will negotiate a plea to lesser charges from a position of strength. Otherwise, they will prepare the case for trial and make prosecutors prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. Call them at (310) 557-1700 to set up a free consultation so they can help you protect your rights.

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