What Makes Pornography Illegal?

Teen on mobile phone

Is Accidentally Possessing Illegal Pornography a Crime?

Claiming the possession of the illegal material is accidental is a valid criminal defense; however it will not stop you from being charged with a crime. If you have illegal pornography on your phone purposely or accidentally, you will be charged with a criminal offense, such as Pandering Obscenities, Illegal use of a Minor or Impaired Person in Nudity Material. The repercussions can last a lifetime - determining where you can live and where you can work.

The accidental possession of illegal pornography can easily happen when a person visits pornographic websites often. Website images are often automatically downloaded to a device as temporary internet files. If those images are illegal, that person is now in possession of illegal material. Deleting these files doesn’t mean they are eliminated from the hard drive.

Many people may possess illegal porn without even knowing it. Almost all websites, email services, and phone apps track the traffic on their sites as exposures, views, interactions, and clicks. This allows the business to track their effectiveness, target their advertising, and it allows the website to sell ads. When certain websites are accessed or emails are shared an investigation can quickly ensue.

Unfortunately, juveniles as well as adults frequently get charged with serious criminal offenses due to their expertise at navigating the web and smartphones. With so much access to technology, teenagers frequently unknowingly watch or text one another with pictures or videos that may be illegal to receive, view, download, or share.

What Makes Pornography Illegal?

The United States is one of about half of the countries in the world where the production and viewing of pornography is legal for adults. However, with the millions of pornographic images on the internet and around the globe, how can one tell if the pornography is illegal?

  • Nude pictures or videos of anyone under the age of 18 are illegal to possess.

  • Nude photos of anyone who is impaired (naturally or through drug or alcohol use) can be illegal.

  • Nude images or performances of someone who is unaware someone is photographing or recording them (This includes sleeping!) who are in a place where the subject of photography would reasonably expect privacy are also illegal.

  • Knowingly distributing or displaying legally produced pornography to a minor is illegal.

  • Lying about your age to gain access to material harmful to juveniles is a 2nd degree misdemeanor.

What Felony Charges Result From Watching Illegal Pornography?

The following laws cover the most common charges for illegal pornography. Accusations of any of these crimes must be taken very seriously as they are felony offenses ranging from the 2nd to fourth or fifth degree. Felonies of the 2nd degree carry mandatory prison sentences. These may also be Federal crimes. An Ohio criminal defense attorney can explain the felonies and federal crimes that if convicted, carry optional prison sentences.

Could I Be Charged With a Sex Crime for Pornography?

It is common for sex crime charges to occur during a separate criminal investigation.

  • This happens when the investigation of another matter gives law enforcement access to cell phones or computers

  • Once law enforcement has your phone, they will access all your photos and downloaded material.

  • If something appears illegal in or on seized property, they will quickly add the charges listed in this article.

  • Only prosecutors can dismiss charges, not the police or the judge.

  • Not knowing the age of the minor subject of an illegal photo or video is not a suitable defense against such charges.

  • An experienced sex crimes defense firm can help determine a strategic defense against sex charges.

What Are the Consequences of Being Accused of a Sex Crime? How Can an Attorney Help?

Simply being accused of any of the crimes listed in this article can lead to severe social consequences on social media and at school or work. Being charged and convicted of them carries heavy legal consequences, job loss, sex offender registration, and a lifetime of branding as a sexual predator or deviant. The repercussions can last a lifetime - determining where you can live and where you can work.

If you, anyone you know, or your teenager is being investigated for any of pornography or sex crime, the earlier you contact an Ohio Sex Crimes attorney, the better the chance for a positive outcome. Reach out at once to discuss your case with a law firm that specializes in sex crime defense today.

Written by The Law Office of Brian Jones, LLC

-Dr. Benjamin Jackoby, Dr. “Hank” Jackoby


Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules, Ohio Revised Code 2907

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