Seemingly Innocent Actions Can Lead to Child Pornography Charges

As Michigan resident Evan Emory learned, prosecutors don't have much of a sense of humor when it comes to alleged exploitation of children. The 21-year-old performing artist faced child pornography charges stemming from his manipulation of a video of children listening to a funny, innocuous song into one seemingly depicting those same children being subjected to raunchy, sex-filled lyrics. Even though Mr. Emory never actually sang anything inappropriate to the kids - and at no time were they subjected to any improper language or situations - he faced felony-level charges of "manufacturing child sexual abusive materials."

On March 14, 2011, Emory pled guilty to the lesser charge of "unlawful posting of an Internet message with aggravating circumstances" to avoid the potential 15-year prison sentence and sexual offender registration that could have come with a conviction on the original charge. While Emory's case was in Michigan, Minnesota has similarly severe laws to limit the proliferation of pornographic images depicting children.

Minnesota Laws Prohibiting Child Pornography

As set forth in Minnesota Statutes Annotated (MSA) § 617.247.1 et. seq., it is a crime to possess, manufacture or disseminate material that "depict[s] sexual conduct which involves minors or appears to involve minors."

Dissemination/distribution charges involve more serious penalties than possession charges, including:

  • Up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for a first-time offense
  • Up to 15 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines for any subsequent offense

Possession of child pornography is still a felony-level charge, however. It is punishable by:

  • Up to five years in prison and a fine of not more than $5,000 for a first offense
  • Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for a second or subsequent offense

Other Penalties

Of course, a conviction on any of these child pornography-related charges also comes with mandatory registration on the state's sex offender list. For many people, this is the consequence with the biggest impact on their lives - registration can be for one year, 10 years or even for life - and its effects can influence housing choices, can result in loss of job opportunities and could even make getting education funding more difficult.

With such serious consequences for any child pornography conviction, those facing charges need to mount an aggressive defense. If you have been charged or are being investigated, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.

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