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Texas Child Pornography Laws

Overview of Texas Child Pornography Laws

Texas prohibits the promotion, use, or exploitation of children under the age of 18 for performance or employment or conduct of sexual acts or depictions of acts of a sexual nature. Texas law defines "sexual conduct" as sexual contact, actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, sado-masochistic abuse, or lewd exhibition of the genitals, the anus, or any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola. It is against the law to promote, create, or disseminate materials depicting any such sexual conduct by any means of visual representation, including plays, motion picture, photographs, and dance. If the parent or legal guardian of a child under the age of 18 consents to the child engaging in a sexual performance, the parent or legal guardian has also committed an offense.

It is also a crime to possess child pornography. A prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly and intentionally possessed materials depicting a child under the age of 18 years at the time the material was created, engaging in sexual conduct, and the defendant knows this material depicts the child as such. It is also a crime to possess child pornography with the intention of promoting or distributing it. Under Texas child pornography laws, if six or more identical visual depictions of a child engaging in sexual conduct are found, then there will be a presumption that the defendant had intent to promote the materials.

Defenses to Child Pornography Charges

  • Mistake of fact (i.e. the subject appears to be under the age of 18 but in fact, is over the age of 18)
  • Entrapment
  • Age
  • Lack of intent
  • Lack of knowledge

Penalties and Sentences

For the crime of employing a child under the age of 18 for sexual performance or conduct, the charge is that of a second degree felony, which carries a sentence of two to twenty years in a state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000. If the child is younger than 14 years of age, however, the charge may be increased to a first degree felony, carrying a sentence of five to 99 years in state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.

For the crime of knowingly producing, directing or promoting a performance that includes sexual conduct by a child under the age of 18, the defendant can be charged with a third degree felony, which carries a sentence of two to ten years in a state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000. However, if the child is younger than 14, the charge may be elevated to second degree felony.

For the crime of employing or authorizing a child to work for a sexually oriented commercial activity or in any place requiring the child to work nude or topless, it is a "Class A" misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of not more than one year in a county jail and/or a fine of no more than $4,000.

For the crime of possessing child pornography, the charge is a third degree felony. If the defendant possesses child pornography and it is proven that there was intent to promote or distribute it, the charge is raised to a second degree felony.

Texas Child Pornography Laws: Statute

Penal Code, Title 9, Chapter 43, Sections 43.25-43.26 (Scroll down for section)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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