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Child Pornography

Penal Code 311 PC - Child Pornography Laws in California

California Penal Code 311 PC makes it a crime to send, transport, duplicate, print, advertise, possess child pornography, or hire or persuade a minor to make any pornographic image.

Notably, PC 311 is the primary statute making child porn illegal, but there are various sections of this law prohibiting different types of behavior. For example, Penal Code 311.2 PC prohibits sending or possessing child porn, while Penal Code 311.3 prohibits duplicating or exchanging child pornography.

Regardless, it's a crime to distribute or have possession of child pornography. Also, sharing images in an online porn group is illegal, called peer-to-peer networks.  All illicit acts of distribution, producing, viewing, or downloading child porn are typically covered within Penal Code 311 PC subsections. 

A primary factor in all PC 311 offenses is that you knowingly committed a child pornography offense. In other words, to convict you, the prosecutor must prove the “elements of the crime” beyond any reasonable doubt.

For example, they must show that you knowingly possessed images depicting minors in sexual acts and that you knew the images showed someone under the age of 18. They must also prove that they knew the nature of the photos before sharing or possessing them.

Child Porn Laws – Defined 

Child pornography is defined as any material depicting sexual activity by someone under the age of 18. “Material” can include photographs, videos, slides, negatives, or computer-generated equipment. 

Sexual activity” can include masturbation, sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, and oral copulation. “Knowingly” means you knew the nature of the child porn material showing someone under the age of 18 participating in sexual conduct.

Obscene,” in the context of PC 311 child pornography laws, means showing or describing sexual conduct offensively in a manner where a reasonable adult person would conclude that it lacks serious artistic value but instead shows shameful nudity or sex. As noted, subsections within Penal Code 311 PC cover specific child pornography violations, including the following: 

  • Penal Code 311.1 and 311.2 PC prohibits knowingly distributing child porn, such as sending, transporting, producing, possessing, or duplicating any child porn images with the intent to distribute it.
  • Penal Code 311.3 PC makes it a crime to knowingly share child porn, such as knowingly duplicating, printing, or exchanging it.
  • Penal Code 311.4 PC makes it a crime to knowingly hire, employ, use, persuade, or coerce a minor to participate in producing child porn.
  • Penal Code 311.10 PC makes it a crime to advertise, sell, or distribute child pornography knowingly.
  • Penal Code 311.11 PC prohibits knowingly possessing or controlling child pornography produced using a minor under the age of 18.

What are the PC 311 Penalties?

A primary factor for sentencing in PC 311 child pornography cases is the volume and nature of the contraband images or videos, and most cases are wobblers or felonies.

Suppose you had a small number of pornographic images depicting teenagers in sexual activity. In that case, prosecutors will typically consider it less serious than having hundreds of images depicting young children.  

Suppose you took direct steps to meet children for sex in real life or communicated with them through chat rooms or other types of electronic communication. In that case, you should expect prosecutors to seek a prison sentence as you would be considered a danger to children.  

The penalties for a misdemeanor PC 311 child pornography conviction include the following:

The penalties for a felony PC 311 child pornography conviction include the following:

  • A maximum fine of up to $10,000,
  • Up to three years in state prison,
  • Sex offender registration as a tier-one offender for at least ten years as defined under Penal Code 290 PC. 

For non-citizen aliens, their immigration status will likely be affected by a child pornography conviction as it's considered a crime involving moral turpitude. Undocumented immigrants might be deemed “inadmissible” for future entry into the United States or face deportation.

What are Related Crimes?

Several California laws are related to Penal Code 311 child pornography, including the following:

  • Penal Code 288 PC - lewd acts with a child. This law makes it a crime to commit a lewd and lascivious act with a minor under the age of 14.  A lewd act means touching the minor for sexual purposes or causing them to touch themselves or another person.
  • Penal Code 261.5 PC - statutory rape. This law makes it a crime to engage in sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 18, regardless of sexual consent by the minor.
  • Penal Code 647(j)(4) PC - revenge porn. This law makes it a crime to intentionally distribute sexual images of someone with the intent to cause emotional distress. 

What Are Legal Defenses? 

Suppose you are under investigation or charged with violating PC 311 child porn laws. In that case, our California sex crime attorneys can use several common child porn defenses to obtain the best possible outcome, such as the following:  

  • There is no actual child pornography material,
  • You did not knowingly commit the act,
  • Unlawful search and seizure by police,  
  • Entrapment by law enforcement. 

“Child pornography” has a legal definition under California law. Perhaps we can argue that the images or videos do not meet the standard of this definition. In other words, the material you possessed was not legally child porn.

Penal Code 311 PC – California’s Child Pornography Laws
PC 311 makes it a crime to send, transport, duplicate, print, advertise, or possess child pornography.

“Knowingly” possessing child porn means you were aware of the child porn laws. Perhaps we can argue that you downloaded images containing illegal pornographic images without knowing it.

Perhaps we can argue that the child porn evidence was obtained illegally, either by lack of a search warrant or it does not fall within a search warrant's parameters. In many child porn prosecutions, the District Attorney will obtain evidence through the execution of a search warrant and seizure of electronic devices, such as personal computers and cell phones, to be forensically analyzed by experts.  

Perhaps we can make an entrapment argument after overzealous police coerced you into committing a crime you would not have otherwise committed through pressure, flattery, or harassment. 

Often, undercover police officers pretend to sell people child porn online through persuasion or unlawfully luring them.  Perhaps we persuade prosecutors not to file formal child pornography charges, known as a “DA reject.” 

Perhaps we can negotiate a deal where you enroll in a treatment program or individual or group therapy from a mental health professional specializing in child pornography issues. Contact us for a confidential free case evaluation. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, CA. 

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