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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.

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. 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.

Texas Child Pornography Laws: The Basics

Statute Texas Penal Code § 43.25, et seq.
Statutory Definition of Child Pornography Offenses

Sexual Performance by a Child:

A person commits an offense if, knowing the character and content thereof, he employs, authorizes, or induces a child younger than 18 years of age to engage in sexual conduct or a sexual performance. A parent or legal guardian or custodian of a child younger than 18 years of age commits an offense if he consents to the participation by the child in a sexual performance.

Possession of Child Pornography:

A person commits an offense if:

  1. The person knowingly or intentionally possesses, or knowingly or intentionally accesses with intent to view, visual material that visually depicts a child younger than 18 years of age at the time the image of the child was made who is engaging in sexual conduct; and
  2. The person knows that the material depicts the child as described by Subdivision 1 (above).
Crime Classifications

Sexual Performance by a Child:

  • Class A misdemeanor for 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.
  • Third degree felony for knowingly producing, directing, or promoting a sexual performance by a child younger than 18.
  • Second degree felony for employing a child under 18 for sexual performance or conduct; or for knowingly producing, directing, or promoting a sexual performance by a child younger than 14.
  • First degree felony for employing a child under 14 for sexual performance or conduct.

Possession of Child Pornography:

  • Third degree felony for possessing child pornography.
  • Second degree felony for possessing child pornography with the intent to promote or distribute it.
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
  • Class A misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in jail, fine of up to $4,000.
  • Third degree felony: 2 to 10 years in state prison, fine of up to $10,000.
  • Second degree felony: 2 to 20 years in prison, fine of up to $10,000.
  • First degree felony: 5 years to life in prison, fine of up to $10,000.

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.

Related Resources

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The hiring of children for sexual performances or the production or possession of child pornography is a serious crime in Texas as in other states. Depending on the severity of the charges, you could spend the rest of your life in prison if convicted. If you have been charged with one of these crimes, you will need a lawyer. Get started with a free and confidential review of your charges.

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