Cellphone photos and videos subject many to child pornography charges

It is a high tech world and everyone today seems to have a cellphone. Many cellphones have the capability of taking photos and video that users share with friends and family or keep for their own viewing pleasure. However, careless or reckless use of cellphones can get their owners into legal problems.

A Pennsylvania man was recently convicted in a Maryland court of one count of receipt of child pornography. He received a sentence of 10 years in federal prison and will have 50 years of supervised release upon completion of his jail time. The man was accused of videotaping young boys with his cellphone as they used the urinals in rest stops along I-95.

A Midwestern coach was accused last year of taking pornographic videos on his cellphone of his own children when, in fact, his kids had merely asked him to videotape them while they cavorted after taking a bath. The judge threw the charges out but only after the man lost his job and was publicly disgraced by the felony charges; one of using minors in a sexual performance and another of possession of child pornography.


Sexting is a relatively new term, meaning the act of sending sexually explicit photos, video or messages via cellphone. The practice is increasingly popular, especially among teenagers and young adults.

In Maryland, child pornography laws make it a felony to create, possess or distribute an image of a minor engaged in any type of sexual activity. Even photos or videos taken by minors of other minors are subject to criminal penalties.

Illegal acts of child pornography

Child pornography laws are broadly construed in Maryland. Actions that are illegal in the state include such acts as:

  • Taking a photo or video of a minor engaging in sexual conduct
  • Manipulating computer images to depict or describe a minor engaging in sexual conduct
  • Asking or coercing a minor to be the subject of a sexual photo or video
  • Knowingly allowing a minor to be the subject of a sexual photo or video
  • Possessing, promoting or distributing a photo or video of a minor engaging in sexual conduct

Penalties for child pornography convictions

An accusation of child pornography can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. Even if the charges are later dropped, the harm has already been done to the person’s reputation, job and relationships.

Penalties for convictions of possession, promotion and distribution of child porn can vary widely depending on the number and type of charges, a person’s prior criminal history and the laws of the state in which the person is charged. Federal charges may also come into play in certain circumstances. Penalties often include jail time, penalties and registration as a sex offender.

If you are accused of a child pornography crime, seek the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney knowledgeable about defending sex crime cases can help ensure that your rights are protected.