California Child Pornography Laws
Overview of California Child Pornography Laws
California's obscenity laws protect children from exploitation in pornographic materials. Laws against child pornography prohibit and punish the production, possession, transport, distribution, and sale of pornographic materials that involve or depict minors under the age of eighteen.
California law does not specifically criminalize the viewing of child pornography -- however, state law does prohibit the possession or control of pornographic materials containing content with minors. Downloading or saving child pornography to a personal computer likely qualifies as possession or control of the materials. Sharing, emailing, or otherwise distributing copies of the material likely also qualify according to state law.
In a child pornography case, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant "knowingly" participated in the production, possession, or distribution of pornography-related materials involving a minor under the age of eighteen. Under California, "knowing" means that the defendant had an awareness of the content of the pornographic material.
California Child Pornography Laws Overview
Below you will find key provisions of California’s child pornography laws.
California Penal Code Section 311.3 (Sexual exploitation of a child)
California Penal Code Section 311.4 (Knowingly hiring, employing, using, persuading, or coercing a minor to participate in the production of child porn)
California Penal Code Section 311.0 (Knowingly advertising obscene child porn for sale or distribution)
California Penal Code Section 311.1 (Knowingly possessing or controlling any child pornography that was produced using a person under 18)
The potential penalties and sentences depend on whether the defendant produced, possessed, distributed, or sold child pornography.
California state laws impose more stringent penalties on defendants who engage in the industry of child pornography for commercial gain. If the defendant transported, distributed, or advertised child pornography for commercial benefit, the penalty increases to imprisonment in state prison for a term of two, three, or six years, or a fine up ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. A defendant who hired or coerced a minor to participate in child pornography can receive a felony sentence of up to three, six, or eight years in state prison.
Mandatory Lifetime Sex Registration
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
California Codes and Legal Research Options
If you have additional questions about California’s child pornography laws, click on the following links:
- Sex Offenders and Sex Offenses
- Child Exploitation and Obscenity
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Accused of Violating California Child Pornography Laws? Get in Touch with a Lawyer
If you’ve been accused of a child pornography-associated crime, you’ll want to get legal advice as soon as possible – especially because if convicted, you could face mandatory lifetime sex registration. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in California today to learn the facts about California child pornography laws and how they apply to your particular case.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.