Facing accusations of crimes involving child pornography can be extremely difficult. When the public image associated with a crime is so heinous, a community may rush to judgment before you have your fair day in court.

If you are facing these types of charges , you should consider consulting a Charleston child pornography lawyer to help you navigate the legal proceedings. A skilled criminal defense attorney could help you build a comprehensive defense strategy and work to minimize the negative consequences of these charges.

What are the Federal Laws Concerning Child Pornography?

Both state and federal laws prohibit the sexual exploitation of children, which includes the possession, distribution, and production of child pornography. Federal statutes prohibit creation, distribution, reception, and possession of “visual depictions” of a minor under the age of 18 engaging in “sexually explicit conduct.” Under the definitions of 18 United States Code §2256, a “visual depiction” could include multiples forms of electronic data, even those not stored in a permanent format.

Sexually explicit conduct is defined to include various sexual acts, as well as “lascivious exhibition” of the genital areas. Even a depiction of sexually explicit conduct that has been created through computer animation is prohibited if the production makes it appear as though an “identifiable minor” is participating.


Federal laws prohibiting child pornography apply to material transported interstate or internationally. Depending on the circumstances, individuals convicted could face a minimum of five to 10 years in prison, with maximums of 20 to 30 years. Penalties may increase if the individual charged has prior convictions for sex offenses, or if the minor involved was under the age of 12.

Affirmative Defenses

In some cases, an affirmative defense may be available to a defendant and their lawyer in a child pornography case. According to federal statutes, a defendant may make an affirmative defense if they possessed fewer than three pieces of material and either made a good-faith attempt to destroy the material or contacted law enforcement. A Charleston child pornography attorney may be able to help an individual take advantage of this defense by showing that they acted promptly and in good faith.

What are the State Laws Concerning Child Pornography?

South Carolina statutes prohibiting child pornography refer to sexual exploitation of a minor in the first, second, or third-degrees. Third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor under South Carolina Code §16-15-410 occurs when someone knowingly possesses a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexual activity or shown in “sexually explicit nudity when a reasonable person would infer the purposes is sexual stimulation.” Those found guilty of possessing such material may be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

SC Code §16-15-405 defines second-degree exploitation of a minor to include activities involved in the production or distribution of child pornography. These include:

  • Recording
  • Photographing
  • Duplicating
  • Distributing
  • Transporting
  • Receiving
  • Selling/buying
  • Soliciting

An individual must know the character of the material or order to be convicted, so a child pornography lawyer in Charleston may be able to demonstrate a lack of knowledge. However, mistake or ignorance regarding the age of the minors involved is not a defense. Those convicted of this offense face a minimum sentence of two years and a maximum of 10 years.

Finally, someone commits first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor if they encourage a minor to appear in a performance of a sexually explicit nature or they allow a minor under their control to do so. Transporting a minor for purposes of creating child pornography or filming child pornography may also be treated as first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. This offense is punishable by a prison sentence between three and 20 years.

Help from a Charleston Child Pornography Attorney

All child pornography crimes are felony offenses with severe penalties. In addition, a conviction may result in sex offender registration requirements and cause lasting harm to your reputation and community status.

Even an accusation connected with child pornography can have lasting negative effects. To protect your rights and work toward a positive outcome, call today to schedule a consultation with a Charleston child pornography lawyer.