Child Pornography

Denton Child Pornography Lawyer | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

Child Pornography


The mere accusation of child pornography can have a devastating effect on a person’s life. People who are only charged with child pornography offenses can see visible differences in the way they are treated by friends, family, and co-workers even though they have not been convicted.


Convictions for child pornography can usually carry very serious penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and large fines. Child pornography is prohibited under both state law in Texas and federal law, and either form of criminal charges can be enormously stressful for an alleged offender.

Child Pornography


Denton Child Pornography Lawyer


If you or your loved one were arrested for an alleged child pornography offense in the Denton area, you need to have an attorney before you speak to police. Make sure your first phone call is to the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.


Our firm can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (940) 222-8004 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.


State Child Pornography Penalties in Denton


Texas essentially has three laws relating to child pornography offenses. Texas Penal Code § 21.15 establishes the crime of invasive visual recording, which a person commits when they, without the other person's consent and with intent to invade the privacy of the other person:


  • photograph or by videotape or other electronic means record, broadcast, or transmit a visual image of an intimate area of another person if the other person has a reasonable expectation that the intimate area is not subject to public view;


  • photograph or by videotape or other electronic means record, broadcast, or transmit a visual image of another in a bathroom or changing room; or


  • knowing the character and content of the photograph, recording, broadcast, or transmission, promote a photograph, recording, broadcast, or transmission described above.


Invasive visual recording is a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in state jail and/or fine of up to $10,000.


The crime of sexual performance by a child is established under Texas Penal Code § 43.25. Under Texas Penal Code § 43.25(b), a person commits an offense if, knowing the character and content thereof, they employ, authorize, or induce a child younger than 18 years of age to engage in sexual conduct or a sexual performance. A parent or legal guardian or custodian of a child younger than 18 years of age commits an offense if they consent to the participation by the child in a sexual performance.


An offense under Texas Penal Code § 43.25(b) is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000, but the offense is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000 if the alleged victim is younger than 14 years of age at the time the offense is committed, regardless of whether the alleged offender knows the age of the victim at the time of the offense.


Texas Penal Code § 43.25(d) establishes that a person commits a third-degree felony offense  punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000 if, knowing the character and content of the material, they produce, direct, or promote a performance that includes sexual conduct by a child younger than 18 years of age. This crime is a second-degree felony if the alleged victim is younger than 14 years of age at the time the offense is committed, regardless of whether the alleged offender knows the age of the victim at the time of the offense.


Finally, Texas Penal Code § 43.26 is the state law for possession or promotion of child pornography. A person commits an offense under Texas Penal Code § 43.26(a) if they knowingly or intentionally possess, or knowingly or intentionally access with intent to view, visual material that visually depicts a child younger than 18 years of age at the time the image of the child was made who is engaging in sexual conduct, including a child who engages in sexual conduct as a victim of an offense under Texas Penal Code § 20A.02(a)(5), (6), (7), or (8) (relating to trafficking of persons) and they know that the material depicts the child as described above.


Possession or promotion of child pornography is a third-degree felony, but it is a second-degree felony if the alleged offender has a previous possession or promotion of child pornography conviction, and it is a first-degreee felony if the alleged offender has two or more prior possession or promotion of child pornography convictions.


Texas Penal Code § 43.26(e) also provides that a  person commits an offense if they knowingly or intentionally promote or possess with intent to promote material described by Texas Penal Code § 43.26(a)(1) and they know that the material depicts the child as described by Texas Penal Code § 43.26(a)(1). Texas Penal Code § 43.26(f) establishes that a person who possesses visual material that contains six or more identical visual depictions of a child as described by Texas Penal Code § 43.26(a)(1) is presumed to possess the material with the intent to promote the material. A violation of Texas Penal Code § 43.26(e) is a second-degree felony, but it is a first-degree felony if the alleged offender has a prior conviction for this offense.


Federal Child Pornography Penalties


It is not uncommon for many child pornography charges to become federal cases because using the internet inherently crosses state lines. The federal government has a number of statutes addressing child pornography, including:


  • Possession of child pornography, 18 U.S.C. §2252(b)(2) and 18 U.S.C. §2252A(b)(2) — First offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison, alleged offenders with prior sex offense convictions can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.


  • Mailing, transporting, or receiving, or possession with intent to sell child pornography, 18 U.S.C. §2252(b)(1) and 18 U.S.C. §2252A(b)(1) — First offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison, alleged offenders with prior sex offense convictions can be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.


  • Possession of visual representations of sexual abuse of children, 18 U.S.C. §2252(b)(2) and 18 U.S.C. §2252A(b)(2) — First offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison, alleged offenders with prior sex offense convictions can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.


  • Mailing, transporting, or receiving, or possession with intent to sell images depicting sexual abuse of children, 18 U.S.C. §2252(b)(1) and 18 U.S.C. §2252A(b)(1) — First offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison, alleged offenders with prior sex offense convictions can be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.


Sentencing in federal cases is very complicated because a number of factors could impact a person’s sentence, such that offenses involving children of certain ages or large numbers of images may result in longer sentences than other cases.


Child Pornography Defenses in Denton County


Texas Penal Code § 43.25(f) establishes that it is an affirmative defense to a prosecution for sexual performance by a child that:


  • The alleged offender was the spouse of the child at the time of the offense;


  • The conduct was for a bona fide educational, medical, psychological, psychiatric, judicial, law enforcement, or legislative purpose;  or


  • The alleged offender is not more than two years older than the child.


Texas Penal Code § 43.26(h) establishes that it is a defense to prosecution for possession or promotion of child pornography that the alleged offender is a law enforcement officer or a school administrator who possessed or accessed the visual material in good faith solely as a result of an allegation of a violation of Texas Penal Code § 43.261, allowed other law enforcement or school administrative personnel to possess or access the material only as appropriate based on the allegation described by Texas Penal Code § 43.26(1), and took reasonable steps to destroy the material within an appropriate period following the allegation described by Texas Penal Code § 43.26(1).


Child Pornography Resources in Denton County


Citizen's Guide To U.S. Federal Law On Child Pornography | Department of Justice — Visit this section of the Department of Justice website to learn more about federal child pornography laws. As the website states, “Images of child pornography are not protected under First Amendment rights, and are illegal contraband under federal law.” You can also find answers to frequently asked questions and report violations.


Prosecutors Dropping Child Porn Charges After Software Tools Are Questioned — View an April 2019 ProPublica article that discusses how over a dozen cases were dismissed after defense attorneys asked to examine, or raised doubts about, computer programs that track illegal images to internet addresses. ProPublica noted that the dismissals represented a small fraction of the hundreds of federal and state child pornography prosecutions since 2011, as defendants frequently plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence. The article notes that software that relies on unconfirmed information from big data brokers not only directs police to the wrong internet address owner, but also enables them to gather a mountain of personal details about a suspect without a court order.


Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy | Denton Child Pornography Attorney


Were you or your loved one arrested for an alleged child pornography crime in Denton or another community in North Central Texas? You are going to want to make sure you have an experienced and proven criminal defense lawyer.


Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy as soon as possible. Our firm can help you understand all of your legal options when you call (940) 222-8004 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.

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