Washington Child Pornography Laws
In Washington, child pornography prosecutions are divided into two categories: possession and viewing. What does that mean? Basically, if you are knowingly in possession of images depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a minor or are simply viewing these images, you can be in violation of the law.
The laws are further divided into two sub categories, first degree and second degree (explained below).
A Washington state child pornography conviction carries some of the harshest penalties in the country including jail, fines, a criminal record and sex offender registration.
What about Free Speech?
Images of child pornography are not considered protected speech by the Constitution. It is a form of child sexual exploitation. In modern times instances of child pornography occur more frequently on the Internet or even on a smartphone known as "sexting." Most convictions will lead to registration on the Washington Sex Offender Registry. Once registered, an individual may be on the list for life.
The following table highlights the main provisions of Washington child pornography laws (Sexual Exploitation of Children). See Cyber Crimes, Sex Crimes, and Crimes Against Children for more information.
Child Pornography: Chapter 9.68a RCW
|What is Prohibited||
Possession: Knowingly possessing visual or printed matter depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct
Viewing : Intentionally viewing (over the internet) visual or printed matter depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct
|First Amendment Protections?||
Child pornography is not protected speech covered by the First Amendment.
|Definition of a "Minor"||
A person under 18 years of age
|Definition of Sexually Explicit Conduct, First Degree||
|Definition of Sexually Explicit Conduct, Second Degree||
* Minor does not need to know that he or she is participating in the described conduct, or any aspect of it.
Possession, first degree: Class B felony, 12 – 14 months prison followed by three years of Community Custody or Probation. Multiple counts can be sentenced up to 10 years in prison.
Possession, second degree: Class C felony, 3 – 9 months county jail followed by 1 (one) year of Community Custody or Probation. Multiple counts can be sentenced up to 5 (five) years in prison.
Viewing, first degree: Class B felony, 12 – 14 months prison followed by three years of Community Custody or Probation. Multiple counts can be sentenced up to 10 years in prison.
Viewing, second degree: Class C felony, 0 – 12 months in the county jail followed by 1 (one) year of Community Custody or Probation. Multiple counts can be sentenced up to 5 (five) years in prison.
|Statute of Limitations|
Federal Child Pornography Crimes
Child pornography is also a federal crime. Federal laws addressing child pornography are:
- 18 U.S.C. § 2251- Sexual Exploitation of Children
(Production of child pornography)
- 18 U.S.C. § 2251A- Selling and Buying of Children
- 18 U.S.C. § 2252- Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors (Possession, distribution and receipt of child pornography)
- 18 U.S.C. § 2252A- Certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography
- 18 U.S.C. § 2260- Production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the United State
- Washington State Office of the Attorney General, (360) 753-6200
- Washington State Law Enforcement, (804) 674-2000
Because criminal laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced Washington state criminal defense attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.