PC 311.1: Possession of Child Pornography
The penal laws are strict when it comes to issues of sex involving minors. Even possession of material that depicts a person under the age of 18 simulating sexual conduct can send a person to prison for years. On top of any sentence to incarceration or fine (up to $10,000), a person convicted of a child pornography offense will be branded a sex offender and required to register as one for ten years or life. Understanding the elements of this serious charge and the defenses available is critical to avoiding the severe consequences of a conviction and its impact on your reputation and your personal, professional, public and private life.
Learn more below about this serious crime. If you’ve been charged with possession of child pornography under PC 311.1 or other California criminal offenses in San Bernardino County, contact the Law Offices of John D. Lueck, APC, for advice and representation from a skilled and experienced Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense attorney.
Elements of the Crime of Child Pornography Under California Penal Code 311.1
To convict someone accused under California Penal Code 311.1, the prosecution must be able to prove every element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s critical for the defense to thoroughly understand every element and be able to challenge the prosecution at every turn. The elements of the offense prohibited in PC 311.1 are:
Knowing Possession: The accused must knowingly possess material that contains child pornography.
Type of Material: The material can be a photograph, film, video, or digital media. It may even include text or drawings that explicitly depict minors engaged in sexual conduct. Another section of the law, PC 311, provides a long and technical definition of what constitutes “obscene matter” that could lead to a conviction.
Age of the Subject: The individual portrayed must be under 18 years of age. This element of the offense does not apply to a person under 18 who has been legally emancipated.
Sexual Conduct: The material must show the minor involved in an act of sexual conduct, which can range from explicit sexual acts to the lewd exhibition of genitals or pubic areas. “Sexual conduct” is broadly defined in yet another section of the law, PC 311.4.
Intent: The accused must possess the material with the intent to distribute, exhibit, or exchange it.
Defenses to Child Pornography Charges
A skilled criminal defense attorney will attack those above elements and show that they are absent or raise reasonable doubt regarding whether they have been proven by the prosecution. Other defenses might apply as well.
Lack of Knowledge – To be convicted, the accused must knowingly possess the child pornography material. If you were unaware that the material you possessed contained such content, this can be a valid defense.
Lack of Intent – If you had no intent to distribute, exhibit, or exchange the material, you cannot and should not be convicted of this offense. Proving intent is a difficult hurdle for the prosecution in many instances, and they must often rely on circumstantial evidence to try and convince a jury that this element exists.
Age – If the age of the individual is ambiguous and cannot be definitively proven to be under 18, then this required element of the offense has not been proven in a manner sufficient to sustain a conviction.
Constitutionality – In some cases, there may be questions about the constitutionality of the search that led to the discovery of the material. If your constitutional rights were violated during the search and seizure, the evidence may be deemed inadmissible in court.
Entrapment – Entrapment by law enforcement agencies might be a potential defense. This defense involves demonstrating how agents tricked or persuaded you into doing something (possessing child pornography) you would not otherwise have done.
PC 311.1 is a “wobbler” in the Penal Code, which means it could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, penalties can include up to one year in county jail, up to $1,000 in fines, and registration as a sex offender for ten years. As a felony, penalties can include up to three years in state prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and a lifetime sex offender registration. In addition to providing a robust defense and challenging the prosecution’s case wherever applicable, your criminal defense lawyer will also work to get charges reduced or dismissed wherever possible. In this case, getting felony charges reduced to a misdemeanor might be a pathway to a plea that avoids jail time and the most severe consequences of a conviction. Based on the evidence against you and other factors, you and your attorney can have a discussion about the possible outcomes you face and what your best, most strategic options may be.
Charged With Child Pornography or Sex Crimes in San Bernardino? Call Attorney John D. Lueck for Help.
Facing child pornography charges can be frightening, but remember that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. As an experienced California criminal defense law firm, the Law Offices of John D. Lueck, APC, is committed to providing vigorous, strategic defense for our clients. If you or a loved one find yourself facing such accusations, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team is here to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the fair trial you deserve. You can call the office at 909-484-1963 or call attorney John Lueck directly on his cell phone at 909-646-2736.