Are You a Legal Professional?

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.

Code Sections

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
  • Sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex or between humans and animals;
  • Penetration of the vagina or rectum by any object;
  • Masturbation;
  • Sadomasochistic abuse;
  • Defecation or urination for the purpose of sexual stimulation of the viewer;
Definition of Sexually Explicit Conduct, Second Degree
  • Depiction of the genitals or unclothed pubic or rectal areas of any minor, or breast of a female minor, for the purpose of sexual stimulation of the viewer;
  • Touching of a person's clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or breast area for the purpose of sexual stimulation of the viewer;

* Minor does not need to know that he or she is participating in the described conduct, or any aspect of it.

Penalties

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

Three (3) years

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

Law Enforcement

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.

Next Step Search and Browse
Contact a qualified attorney.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)