The Consequences of Possessing Child Pornography in Texas

The exploitation of children is taken seriously in Texas. Under the law, individuals are strictly prohibited from creating, possessing, transporting, or distributing pornographic materials that involve minors. The sex crime charges associated with a child pornography offense carry severe penalties. Understanding the state’s possession of child pornography charges will be essential if you hope to defend yourself at trial. Here is more about what the legal statute says and what you can expect if you are found guilty.

When You Can Face Child Pornography Charges in Texas

Child pornography and molestation offenses are some of the most severe criminal charges you can face across the state of Texas. Under Texas Penal Code § 43.26, criminal charges may apply if you are accused of:

  • Producing child pornography
  • Promoting child pornography
  • Possession of child pornography
  • Electronically transmitting visual materials that depict minors engaged in a sexual performance

The district attorney is required to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt under PENAL CODE CHAPTER 2. BURDEN OF PROOF. They will need to introduce evidence that shows you knowingly and intentionally participated in the production, distribution, or possession of child pornography materials to secure a conviction.

Potential Consequences of Child Pornography Convictions

The extent of the penalties you face will vary widely depending on the severity of the charges against you. For example, if you are accused of viewing or possessing child pornography, you could be charged with a third-degree felony. If convicted, you could spend up to 10 years in prison and pay fines not to exceed $10,000. These penalties will continue to increase with subsequent convictions.

If you are accused of possession or viewing of child pornography a second time, your charges will be elevated to a second-degree felony, which carries a 20-year prison sentence, while a conviction as a first-degree felony is punishable by up to 99 years in a Texas state prison.

Child Pornography Charges Can Be Elevated to Promotion of Child Pornography

The number of visual depictions will also have an impact on the extent of your charges. If you are accused of being in possession of six or more visuals, your charges could be elevated from a basic possession event to promotion of child pornography. The first-time offenders will be charged with a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Depending on how many visual materials you are accused of possessing, your charges could even be elevated to the federal level, particularly if these images were sent across state lines or transmitted to other countries. If convicted of a federal child pornography possession offense, under 18 U.S.C. 2252, you could be facing up to 20 years in federal prison.

Your Child Pornography Conviction May Haunt You for the Rest of Your Life

Criminal penalties and collateral consequences aside, a conviction for possession of child pornography will likely have a devastating impact every day for the rest of your life. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or low-level felony offense, you might have been eligible for record expungement under PENAL § 55 after completing your sentence and being released from prison. However, child pornography offenses are not eligible for expungement under Texas law. For this reason, it is essential that you do everything possible to clear your name of the allegations against you.