Massachusetts Child Pornography Laws
In Massachusetts, child pornography crimes are divided into three general categories: possession, distribution, and creating or allowing a child to engage in child pornography. What does that mean? Basically, if you knowingly posses child pornography, distribute it to others, or create or encourage a child to take part in child pornography, you can be in violation of the law.
A Massachusetts child pornography conviction carries severe penalties including prison time, fines, a long probationary sentence, a criminal record, and sex offender registration.
What about Free Speech?
Images of child pornography are not considered protected speech by the Constitution. They are internet sex crimes and a form of child sexual exploitation. In modern times, instances of child pornography occur more frequently on the internet or even on a smartphone (such as "sexting"). Most convictions will lead to registration with the Sexual Offender Registry Board. Once registered, an individual may be on the list for life.
Possession: MGL c.272, s.29C
Dissemination/Distribution: MGL c.272, s.29B:
Creating child pornography: MGL c.272, s.29A
|What is Prohibited||
Possession: Knowingly possessing visual or printed matter depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. .
Distribution: With "lascivious intent" knowingly and purposefully disseminating or possesing (with intent to distribute) any visual material that exhibits child nudity or sexual conduct.
Creating/allowing child pornography: With "lascivious intent," hiring, soliciting, coercing, enticing, employing, procuring, using, causing, encouraging, or knowingly permitting a child to pose or be exhibited in a state of nudity, for the purpose of representation or reproduction in any visual material, knowing or having reason to know the child is under 18 years old.
|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 "Lascivious intent"||
Factors that help prove "lascivious intent" may include:
a) sexual intercourse,
b) unnatural sexual intercourse or bestiality;
d) sado-masochistic behavior, or
e) lewd exhibition of the genitals.
Possession: First Conviction: Up to 5 (five) years in state prison, $10,000 fine. Second Conviction: 5 ( five) year minimum mandatory state prison sentence. Third conviction carries a ten year minimum mandatory state prison sentence.
Distribution Up to 20 years in state prison, $50,000 fine or up to 3 times the economic value of gain derived from dissemination of the material.
Creating/Allowing Child Pornography: 10 years (minimum mandatory) up to 20 years in state prison
|Mandatory Sex Offender Registration||
Yes a conviction will also require you to register with the Sex Offender Registry Board.
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
- Attorney General of Massachusetts: Cyber Crimes (617) 727-8400
Because criminal laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.