Why Children Can Be Charged with the Creation and Distribution of Child Pornography
In some scenarios, sex crime charges are actually on the rise. According to a five-year study conducted by United Educators, there has been a significant increase in the number of claims brought up against both colleges and universities by alleged perpetrators of sexual assault. Furthermore, 100% of the alleged perpetrators were male in those cases. But the reality is that colleges and universities aren't the only places in which people are charged with a sex crime. In fact, some people accused of a sex crime are not even legal adults.
Today, parents giving their underage children smartphones, tablets, and laptops may seem completely innocuous, and in many cases is expected. But there are certain responsibilities that come with owning this type of technology, some of which teenagers are not quite ready for. But in what cases does taking and sharing suggestive photos lead to parents needing to hire an attorney for a defense against sex crime charges for their children?
Can Minors Be Charged with Sex Crimes?
Minors can definitely be charged with a wide variety of different sex crimes. For example, minors can still be charged with rape and molestation charges. The difference can sometimes lie in exactly what the penalties will be for underage minors, as in some cases they will be charged as minors rather than as adults. These charges could carry sentences carried out in juvenile detention centers rather than prison.
But in terms of child pornography distribution, many of the minors charged are old enough to be charged as adults. Therefore, they would be given sentences befitting adults.
How Do Minors Distribute
In most cases, minors aren't even aware of the fact that what they are distributing is legally considered child pornography, and that they may eventually need a defense against sex crime charges. Child pornography comes in many different forms, but generally speaking on a legal level the images in question must depict a minor under the age of 18. In the images, they can either be participating in or simulating sexual activity for the images to count as child pornography. Therefore, if a minor takes sexual photos of themselves or even consensually takes photos of a sexual partner under the age of 18, they are creating child pornography. If they then go on to send those images to other children, they are then distributing child pornography as well.
The minors involved could face felony charges if they knowingly committed these acts, and when they acted knew that the images would involve minors under the age of 18 participating in or simulating sex acts. It's incredibly important that they have a defense against sex crime charges in cases like these, for the sentences will not necessarily be light because they are minors.
When Are Minors Tried as Adults?
Technically speaking, a minor over the age of 16 years old can be tried as an adult for any crime according to Proposition 21. This means that children can face up to eight years in prison and fines of up to $100,000 for the creation and/or distribution of child pornography, even if the creation and distribution of those images was consensual at the time. Often, this means that minors are held at county jails or juvenile detention centers until they reach the ages of 18 and are transferred to state prisons.
An additional concern regarding any sex crime charges is that of sex offender status. A sex offender status is something that a minor could carry around for years, or depending on the charge the rest of their life. People that are registered as sex offenders face social stigma, and additionally, struggle to maintain jobs and even residences. It's incredibly important that minors charged with sex crimes have qualified attorneys on their sides.
A defense against sex crime charges is not simple, and attorneys that specialize in other areas of the law should not be contacted to handle such charges. This could lead to children receiving the wrong defense, and that in itself could have the lifelong consequences that come with a conviction.