Child Pornography Charges in Tennessee

Under Tennessee law, child pornography charges are called sexual exploitation of a minor.

In Tennessee, sexual exploitation of a minor is unlawful when a person knowingly possesses material that includes a minor engaged in: (1) sexual activity; or (2) simulated sexual activity that is patently offensive. T.C.A. § 36-17-1003(a) (2016).

A conviction of the sexual exploitation of a minor statute is a Class E felony under Tennessee law. The range of punishment for a Class E felony is between 1 to 6 years in jail.

In addition, Tennessee also has an aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor charge. T.C.A. § 36-14-1004(a)(1)-(2) (2016) states:

(a)(1) It is unlawful for a person to knowingly promote, sell, distribute, transport, purchase or exchange material, or possess with the intent to promote, sell, distribute, transport, purchase or exchange material, that includes a minor engaged in: (A) sexual activity; or (B) simulated sexual activity that is patently offensive.

(2) A person violating subsection (a)(1) may be charged in a separate count for each individual performance, image, picture, drawing, photograph, motion picture film, videocassette tape, or other pictorial representation.

A violation of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor statute is a Class D felony under Tennessee law. The range of punishment for a Class D felony is between 2 to 12 years.

However, if there are more than fifty (50) individual materials recovered, the offense is a Class C felony. The range of punishment for a Class C felony is between 3 to 15 years.

Further, if there are more than one hundred (100) individual materials covered, the offense is a Class B felony. The range of punishment for a Class B felony is between 8 and 30 years.

Especially Aggravated Child Pornography Charges

Lastly, Tennessee also has an especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor charge. T.C.A. § 36-17-1005(a)-(b) (2016) states:

(a) It is unlawful for a person to knowingly promote, employ, use, assist, transport or permit a minor to participate in the performance of, or in the production of, acts or material that includes the minor engaging in: (1) sexual activity; or (2) simulated sexual activity that is patently offensive.

(b) A person violating subsection (a) may be charged in a separate count for each individual performance, image, picture, drawing, photograph, motion picture film, videocassette tape, or other pictorial representation.

A violation of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor statute is a Class B felony under Tennessee law. The range of punishment for a Class B felony is between 8 and 30 years.

In Tennessee, a minor is considered to be a person under the age of 18 years old. However, for each type of sexual exploitation of a minor charge, the State does not have to prove the actual identity or age of the minor. Therefore, Tennessee law states that the trier of fact (either the jury or the judge) may:

consider the title, text, visual representation, Internet history, physical development of the person depicted, expert medical testimony, expert computer forensic testimony, and any other relevant evidence in determining . . . whether the material or image otherwise represents or depicts that a participant is a minor. T.C.A. § 36-17-1003-1005 (2016).

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Pornography Charges

What are the defenses to child pornography charges?

One of the strongest defenses is innocence. For example, the people depicted may not be underaged at all. Or perhaps the images may not be of real children but are actually "virtual" pictures. Demonstrating lack of mental capacity on the part of the defendant may prove feasible. Lack of intent could also be claimed, that is, you did not know the person or persons depicted were indeed minors. Unlike alleged sexual offenses involving adults however, there is no consent defense in child pornography cases. It is assumed that a child does not have the power to provide consent, just as with statutory rape charges.

If you are convicted, will you have to register as a sex offender?

Yes. And it is very difficult to get your name off the sex offender registry. If you move to another state, your sex offender status will go with you.

What determines the degree of a child pornography charge?

The more conduct there is, the more serious the charge will be. For example, possessing just one picture showing a minor engaging in sexual activity is a Class D felony. Possession of more than 50 images is a Class C felony, and possession of more than 100 images is a Class B felony.

Can you be charged with additional crimes?

Yes. In addition to one or more sexual exploitation of a minor charge, a person could face additional charges, especially for those suspected of producing child pornography. These could include rape, continuous sexual abuse of a child and human trafficking.

Do prosecutors have to prove the age of the person or persons depicted?

No. Possession of an image of a person who appears to be under the age of 18 could be enough for a prosecutor to charge you.

Can a person's assets be seized?

Yes, assets used in the production or distribution of child pornography can be seized. This includes personal and real property.

Free Strategy Session With An Experienced Defense Lawyer

For more information on sexual exploitation of minors cases in Nashville or Middle Tennessee, please call 615-686-2115 or contact us via email to schedule a confidential meeting to discuss your options and possible defenses.