It goes without saying that a charge of possession of child pornography is very serious. It is one of the most heavily punished sex-related crimes on the books in Maryland.
A conviction for a first offense can lead to up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. For each subsequent offense, you will face a maximum of 25 years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine. Each piece of child pornography in the defendant’s possession will be charged separately, so charges (and convictions) can add up quickly.
Depending on how the authorities believe you obtained the materials, you could also face federal charges. A first-time conviction in federal court means a prison term of 15 to 30 years.
The sex offender registry
In addition, if convicted in Maryland state court, you will have to register as a Tier I sex offender. While Tier I is the lowest level on Maryland’s sex offender registry, it still means that your photograph and personal information will be on there for 15 years and that you must report to the authorities every six months to ensure the details on your registry profile are up to date. Thus, the stigma of your criminal record can follow you for years and limit your job, housing and educational options.
What exactly is considered child pornography?
State and federal law define child pornography as “the visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor.” In some cases, this could include photographs and videos that a sexual partner shared with you when they (and you) were minors.
While things can seem hopeless after getting arrested and charged, you still have rights, including the right to an attorney. Having a lawyer to advise you during police interrogations and every subsequent step of the criminal justice process can make a big difference and help you avoid injustice.