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New Jersey Child Pornography Laws

New Jersey law enforcement agencies have devoted greater resources to sex crimes involving minors. A conviction for possessing pornographic images of children are some of the harshest in the country and can result in jail, fines, a criminal record and sex offender registration.

It is illegal under New Jersey state law to posses, view, distribute, share, receive, photograph or allow a child to engage in child pornography. Why? Because images of child pornography are not considered protected speech by the Constitution. It is a form of child sexual exploitation. In modern times, instances of child pornography can occur on a computer through the Internet, or even on a smartphone known as "sexting." Under New Jersey law, a specific provision of the statute prohibits any type of file sharing using peer-to-peer networks for distribution.

Most convictions will lead to registration on the New Jersey Sex Offender list. Once registered, an individual may be on the list for life.

The following table highlights the main provisions of the New Jersey's Child Pornography laws. See Cyber Crimes, Sex Crimes, and Crimes Against Children for more information.

Code Sections

N.J. Stat. Ann. §2c:24-4 et seq.

What is Prohibited

Child Endangerment: Causing or permitting a child to engage in any prohibited sexual acts if you know or have reason to know or intend for the act to be filmed in any manner, including the Internet or will be part of an exhibition or performance.

Producing, Photographing or Filming: Photographing of filming a child in a prohibited sexual act.

Possession: Knowingly possessing an item depicting sexual exploitation or abuse of a child;

Distribution: Knowingly distributing an item depicting sexual exploitation or abuse of a child;

File Sharing Programs: Knowingly storing or maintaining child pornography using a file-sharing program.

First Amendment Protections?

Child pornography is not protected speech covered by the First Amendment.

Definition of a "Child"

A person under 18 years of age.

Definition of "Prohibited Sex Act"
  • Sexual intercourse;
  • Anal intercourse;
  • Masturbation;
  • Bestiality;
  • Sadism;
  • Masochism;
  • Fellatio;
  • Cunnilingus; or
  • Nudity, if depicted for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification of any person viewing it.
Mandatory State Sexual Offender Registry if Convicted? Yes, under Megan's Law.

Felony, possible prison sentence depending on the degree of the crime, fines, community service, mandatory sex registration.

Examples of Enhanced Penalties
  • Mandatory minimum prison sentences for convictions of distributing at least 25 images of child pornography, with a first-time offender serving at least five years and repeat offenders up to 10 years.
  • Requires that anyone convicted of engaging a child in pornography serve at least 85 percent of their prison term (No Early Release Act).
  • First-degree crime for non-parents and guardians to engage a child in pornography. It already applies in that way to parents.
  • Extended prison terms for anyone convicted of a second or subsequent offense of permitting or causing the reproduction of child pornography.
  • Possible lifetime parole supervision for certain convictions.

Federal Child Pornography Crimes

Child pornography is also a federal crime. Federal laws addressing child pornography are:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 2251- Sexual Exploitation of Children
    (Production of child pornography)
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2251A- Selling and Buying of Children
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2252- Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors (Possession, distribution and receipt of child pornography)
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2252A- Certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2260- Production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the United State

Law Enforcement

Because criminal laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.

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