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Texas Law Makers Create New Criminal Offense of Possession or Promotion of Lewd Visual Material Depicting a Child

To address gaps in the law, HB 1810 creates a lesser offense than being charged with possession of child pornography.

Possession of child pornography has long been an established criminal act in Texas. However, some explicit material may be obscene, but not at the same level as pornography. Texas law makers chose to close this gap in the law by passing HB 1810 which criminalizes the possession or promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child. More specifically, the new law criminalizes accessing with an intent to view, or the possession or promotion of lewd pictures of someone under 18 years of age. The obscene material must appeal to “prurient interest,” and possesses no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

The law sets a high standard for prosecutors to prove that an individual intentionally accesses or promoted the obscene material and actually knew that the material showed a minor child at the time the material was created. As far as the rest of the new law goes, it will be interesting to see how the courts interpret the specifics. There will likely be questions as to what is considered appealing to an excessive interest, or “prurient interest, in sex as opposed to simply sex appeal. It will also be interesting to see how questions regarding potential for material to have artistic value will be addressed.

Another question that has been frequently circulating in the wake of the enactment of HB 1810 is how teen sexting will be handled. The bill provides no guidance as to what statute will govern teen sexting. Teen sexting refers to a consensual exchange of explicit photographs between teenagers. The pictures are often sent via text message, but are also sent via things such as social media websites.

While the specifics of the law are ironed out in courts across Texas, those charged with this new crime still face serious penalties. A conviction for this offense is considered a state jail felony and will result in at least 180 days and at most 2 years in state jail. A second offense is considered a third degree felony and could land you in jail for at least 2 years and at most 10 years. A third offense is considered a second degree felony and is punishable by at least 2 years and at most 20 years in jail. While these penalties are severe, they still fall below those assigned to a person convicted of possession of child pornography. This is also, in contract to possession of child pornography, a non-registerable offense.

If you are facing a criminal charge such as possession or promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child, contact the aggressive criminal defense attorneys at Scott M. Brown & Associates. We constantly watch for updates and developments in the law, because that is how we can best serve our clients. Contact us today by calling (281) 612-8241 or go online.

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