NJ Legislature Expands Meaning of “Child Porn” and Creates Harsher Penalties

child porn law

NJ Amends Child Endangering Law

Recently, New Jersey made several changes to its child endangering laws (N.J.S. 2C:24-4).  Most noteworthy, the meaning of child porn has been expanded.  Before, “child pornography” was limited to depictions of children engaged in sexual acts.  Now, child porn also includes items that “portray a child in a sexually suggestive manner.”  This is also known as “child erotica.”

As a result, more people may get charged with child endangering and put on Megan’s Law.

Expanded Meaning of “Child Porn”

First of all, the legal meaning of “child pornography” now captures three types of depictions involving minors.  The NJ Senate explains that the new meaning of child porn includes “images that depict nearly naked, suggestively-posed, and inappropriately sexualized children.”

Law enforcement has already started to charge people under this new statute. For example, in Essex County, a man was arrested and charged under the new version of the “child endangering” statute.

The new language in the revised statute is vague and unclear.  Thus, it is vital to hire an attorney if you face child endangering charges!

Changes to Specific Provisions of Child Endangering Law:

Distribution, Possession with Intent to Distribute, and Maintaining Child Porn on File-Sharing Program – N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(b)(5)(a)

Before the law was amended, this was a second-degree crime.

In contrast, now the severity of the charges for this offense depends on the number of items that show child porn:

  • If 1,000 or more items show child porn, a person may be charged with a first-degree crime.
  • If less than 1,000 items show child porn, someone may be charged with a second-degree crime.

Possession of Child Porn – N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(b)(5)(b)

Before changes to the law, possession of child porn was a third-degree crime. Also, there was a presumption of imprisonment if the offense involved 100 or more items.

Now, however, possession of child porn is divided into three categories.  The severity of the charge depends on the number of alleged child pornography items.  See below for more info:

(i) Possession/viewing/having under control 100,000 or more items  =

  • 1st degree crime,
  • automatic Megan’s Law offense, and
  • automatic Community Supervision for Life (CSL)

(ii) Possession/viewing/having under control at least 1,000 but less than 100,000 items =

  • 2nd degree crime,
  • automatic Megan’s Law offense, and
  • automatic Community Supervision for Life (CSL)

(iii) Possession/viewing/having under control less than 1,000 items =

  • 3rd degree crime;
  • Prosecutor may make motion to sentence individuals to Community Supervision for Life (CSL).

Child porn in photos/images vs. videos/films:

Finally, under the new law, each “film, video, movie” depicting child porn is counted as ten items.  Therefore, those charged with possessing or distributing many films or videos now face more serious charges.

A good defense is key to obtaining a great legal outcome! 

In conclusion, it is too soon to know how this new law will be applied.  However, it is clear that the amended law imposes harsher penalties for these offenses.

At Maynard Law Office, LLC, we have had success defending those charged with and convicted of crimes involving child porn.  Call us today for a free consultation!

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