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Minnesota Child Pornography Laws

Child pornography is illegal in the entire United States, including Minnesota. Minnesota takes this crime very seriously and has a number of laws to address the different ways a person may create, use, or access child pornography.

The following table details the child porn laws in Minnesota.

Code Sections Minnesota Statutes Sections 617.245 – Use of Minors in Sexual Performance Prohibited, 617.247 – Possession of Pornographic Work Involving Minors, and 617.293 – Harmful Materials; Dissemination and Display to Minors Prohibited
What’s Prohibited?

Use of Minors in Sexual Performance Prohibited – Any of the following are illegal:

  • Employing or permitting a child under 18 to engage in posing or modeling alone or with others in any sexual performance or pornographic work (a picture, film, drawing, or other depiction showing a child in actual or simulated sexual conduct—sex, masturbation, S&M— or is advertised to convey impression material contains a minor engaging in sexual conduct)
  • Owning or operating a business where child porn is disseminated or reproduced for adult or minors, if he or she know the content & character of the porn
  • Knowingly disseminating child porn for money to an adult or minor

Possession of Pornographic Work Involving Minors – Both of the following are illegal:

  • Disseminating child porn to an adult or child, knowing what it contains, is a felony
  • Possessing child porn or a computer with electronic storage of child porn, knowing what it contains
Disseminating or Displaying Porn to Minors – Selling any pictures, films, books, or other materials which contain sexual conduct, nudity, or sadomasochistic abuse that is harmful to minors and displaying any materials harmful to minors (sexual materials) in public without an opaque covering is prohibited.

Criminal Penalties

The above crimes are subject to the following penalties in Minnesota:

  • Using a Child in a Porn, Operating a Business Where Child Porn is Disseminated, or Disseminating Child Porn for Profit – up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $20,000 for the first offense and $40,000 for the second offense; after prison, conditional release (sex offender treatment, monitoring, etc.) is required for 5 years, unless a defendant had a prior sexual offense or possession of child porn conviction, then the conditional release is for 10 years
  • Disseminating Child Porn – up to 7 years and fined up to $10,000 for the first offense and up to 15 years and $20,000 fine for the second or subsequent offense or if already a registered predatory offender (called sex offender in most other states); also the court can order a mental exam of the defendant for subsequent violations and require report as to whether treatment is needed
  • Possession of Child Porn – at most 5 years in prison and a fine of not more than $5,000 for the first offense or 10 years and a $10,000 fine for the second or subsequent offenses or while a registered sex offender; offenders are also subject to 5 or 10 years of conditional release after serving their prison sentences
  • Disseminating (Adult) Porn to Minors – a gross misdemeanor that can be penalized by up to 1 year of imprisonment and a $3,000 fine
  • Displaying Porn to Minors – a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a fine of $1,000

Civil Penalties

A county attorney or attorney general can request an injunction for the court to stop the dissemination or display of sexual materials to children.

Predatory Offender Registry

Additionally, a conviction for using a minor in a sexual performance or possession of child pornography will get you on the sex offender registry for 10 years (after you’re released from prison). If you’ve had prior or additional sex offenses, lifetime registry may be required. Being a registered sex offender can seriously impact where you can live and work, as well as what people think of you.


It’s not a defense to creating or possessing child porn that the child or the child’s parent or guardian consented. Nor is a mistake to the child’s age a defense to the using a child in a porn. However, it is a defense to using a minor in a porn that all involved in the porn were in fact 18 or older. This isn’t a defense to child pornography possession since a case State v. Canady.

Another defense is that you are a law enforcement, court, attorney, doctor, psychologist, or social worker working on the child porn matter or in a professional treatment or education program.

Civil Case

The child used in a porn can sue the person who hired or assisted the child in the sexual performance in civil court for his or her damages. Consent of the child or his or her parents and mistake as to age of the child are not possible defenses.

The child has 6 years after he or she should've known about the injury to sue, but this six years clock doesn't start until the child turns 18 and isn’t mentally ill. This is called the statute of limitations.

If you are considering suing someone for doing this to you, speak to an experienced Minnesota personal injury attorney.

Note: State laws change frequently, it’s important to verify the laws you're researching by conducting your own legal research or contacting a qualified Minnesota sex crimes attorney.

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Minnesota Child Pornography Laws: Related Resources

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