Child Pornography Crimes

In Massachusetts, as in every state, child pornography crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They address the exploitation of innocent, vulnerable, children. In addition to the penalties from the court, a conviction will also require you to register with the Sex Offender Registry Board. Child pornography offenses cannot be placed on file or continued without a finding by way of a plea bargain, so the only way to avoid registry with SORB is by fighting the case. 

In order to be convicted of dissemination to a minor of matter harmful to minors, governed by MGL c. 272 s. 28, the prosecution must prove that you did: 
  1. Purposefully disseminate or have in possession with intent to disseminate
  2. To a person you know or believe to be a minor
  3. Material harmful to minors* 
MGL c. 272 s. 31 defines "material harmful to minors" as either obscene, or if taken as a whole it (1) describes or represents nudity, sexual conduct or sexual excitement, so as to appeal predominantly to the prurient interest of minors; (2) is patently contrary to prevailing standards of adults in the county where the offense was committed as to suitable material for such minors; and (3) lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors. 

Dissemination to a minor of material harmful to minors carries the following potential penalties: 
  1. 5 years in state prison (felony)
  2. $10,000 fine (1st offense), $20,000 fine (2nd offense), $30,000 fine (3rd offense
While this charge is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, there are very often legitimate defenses. For example, you cannot be found guilty of this offense if the dissemination was accidental, or if you simply had obscene material but never intended for it to be sent to any minors. Additionally, if you believed that you were sending the material to an adult, you cannot be convicted of this offense. If charged with this crime, it is important that you speak to a skilled attorney to evaluate all possible defenses. 

In order to be convicted of dissemination of child pornography, governed by MGL c. 272 s. 29B, the prosecution must prove that you did: 
  1. With lascivious intent**
  2. Purposefully disseminated or possessed with intent to disseminate
  3. Visual material that exhibits the state of nudity or sexual conduct
  4. By a child under the age of eighteen
  5. Knowing the contents of the material. 
** MGL c. 272 s. 31 defines "lascivious intent" as the state of mind in which the sexual gratification or arousal of any person is an objective. 

Dissemination of visual material of a child in a state of nudity or sexual conduct, or "dissemination of child pornography" carries the following potential penalties: 
  1. 20 years in state prison
  2. $50,000 fine or up to 3 times the economic value of gain derived from dissemination of the material
There are many potential defenses to this charge. First, the prosecution must prove lascivious intent. If the material is for education, art, or any other legitimate purpose, this is a complete defense to the charge.  This offense only deals with a child in the state of nudity- so if the child is posing in underwear, you cannot be convicted under this statute. There are many potential defenses to this offense so it is imperative that you speak to a criminal attorney immediately if charged with this crime. 


In order to be convicted of possession of child pornography, governed by MGL c. 272 s. 29C, the prosecution must prove that you did:  
  1. Knowingly
  2. Purchase or possess pornographic material** of a child under 18 years old
  3. Knowing the content of the material
  4. Knowing or should know that the person(s) depicted in the pornographic material is under 18 years old. 
**For purposes of this offense, "pornographic material" is defined as any visual material that exhibits any of the following: 
  • Any act of sexual intercourse with a person or animal 
  • Any act of sexual contact involving the sex organs and mouth, anus or sex organs of one person with the sex organs of another person or animal
  • Any act of masturbation
  • Any act of lewd fondling, touching, or caressing involving another person or animal
  • Any act of excretion or urination within a sexual context
  • Bound, fettered, or subject to sadistic, masochistic, or sadomasochistic abuse in any sexual contact
  • Any pose, posture or setting involving a lewd exhibition of the unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks or, if such person is a female, a fully or partially developed breast
Possession or purchase of child pornography carries the following potential penalties: 
  1. 5 years in state prison
  2. $10,000 fine
A second conviction for possession of child pornography carries a five year minimum mandatory state prison sentence, and a third conviction carries a ten year minimum mandatory state prison sentence. 

In Massachusetts, in order to be convicted of exhibiting or posing a child in state of nudity, governed by MGL c. 272 s. 29A, the prosecution must prove that you did: 
  1. With lascivious intent
  2. Hire, solicit, coerce, entice, employ, procure, use, cause, encourage, or knowingly permit a child under 18 years old to pose or be exhibited in a state of nudity
  3. For the purpose of representation or reproduction in any visual material
  4. Knowing or having reason to know the child is under 18 years old. 
The potential penalties for this offense include: 
  1. 10 years (minimum mandatory) up to 20 years in state prison
  2. $50,000 fine
If you have been charged with any child pornography crime, or any other criminal offense in Massachusetts, contact our office immediately: 

(617) 830- 2188