The possession, distribution, and production of sexually explicit imagery, involving juveniles in the Commonwealth of Virginia can lead to harsh punishments. Many of the culprits of the charge are teenagers with smartphones because unlike other states that have specific sexting laws concerning teen, Virginia punishes the offense under child pornography. Even though penalties differ for minors as they are tried in a separate juvenile justice system which offers some discretion, however, Virginia’s law makes no distinction between a minor and an adult and sexting is deemed as a child pornography offense.
Sexting is pretty rampant among teenagers and they can face serious legal consequences as the offense comes under child pornography. Sending and receiving sexually explicit images, copying them to another devices can get you charged for three separate felonies. Asking for explicit picture can get you charged with production of child pornography, receiving explicit pictures can get you charged with possession and forwarding the picture or sending it to another device would be considered as distribution of child pornography.
Possession of child pornography in Virginia is a Class 6 misdemeanor and one count of possession can lead to harsh penalties such as up to 5 years in prison. Subsequent counts can add more years to the sentence. The law in Virginia states that the intention is irrelevant during the conviction even though possession of child pornography is a less severe crime than production.
Producing sexually explicit material involving minors can result in:
- Up to 20 years in prison if the subject is over 15 years
- Up to 30 years in prison if the accused is more than seven years older than the juvenile who is over the age of 15
- Up to 30 years in prison if the victim is below the age of 15
- Up to 40 years in prison if the victim is under 15 and the defendant is more than seven years older than the minor
Under the Va Code 18.2-374.1:1, a person charged with distribution of child pornography can face up to 20 years in prison regardless of the age of the minor and the person accused. Furthermore, facilitating the payment for access to child pornography is considered a Class 4 misdemeanor.
A person is charged according to the number of files involving the production, possession and distribution of child pornography.
Apart from imprisonment and fines, a person convicted with production, distribution, or possession of child pornography will also be added to the sex offender registry of Virginia. The possibility of a minor getting registered as a sex offender is extremely low, however, possible. For this, an attorney can help evaluate the entire legal situation of your case and give you suggestions regarding the action you should take.
In Virginia, getting charged with child pornography can lead to extremely harsh penalties so it’s necessary that you consult a lawyer immediately after you get charged so you can strategize an effective defense.