Generally speaking there are two common types of child pornography charges in Maryland under state law. The first is possession under section 11-208 of the criminal code. This law prohibits the possession and retention of a video or picture depicting a child under the age of 16 in a sexual manner or engaging in some sort of sexual conduct. The law requires that the possession and retention be knowingly, and this can often be an absolute defense to prosecution if not knowledge is not proven. Possession of child pornography is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison for a first offense, and a felony with a 10-year maximum for any offense thereafter. As we stated above defendants facing this type of charge will be treated unfairly from the outset, and therefore all defendants should come to court with a lawyer with the experience and determination to fight for the best possible outcome. A conviction of this offense carries not only the possibility of jail time, but the requirement that the defendant register as a tier one sex offender. This designation lasts for 15 years and may not be terminated early absent extenuating circumstances.
Maryland law also prohibits the distribution or production of child pornography under section 11-207 of the criminal code. An important distinction with this law is that it includes all minors, and not just those under the age of 16. Despite the fact that the age of consent in Maryland is 16 a defendant may be charged with a felony for causing, soliciting or allowing any minor to be filmed or photographed engaging in a sex act or for distributing material with this depiction. A violation of this law carries a 10-year maximum penalty for a first offense and a potential 20-year sentence for a second offense. A conviction under 11-207 also carries the potential of a tier two sex offender designation, which could last for 25 years.
Over the last few years we have seen the United States Attorney's Office take on a large amount of child pornography cases in the Baltimore and Greenbelt federal courts using 18 U.S. code 2252A. This statute includes sections for possessing, transporting, mailing, receiving and distributing child porn. Simple possession carries a 10-year maximum penalty upon conviction, while other crimes such as distribution carry a 20-year maximum jail sentence with a 5-year mandatory minimum. The mandatory minimum triples to 15 years for repeat offenders and those with previous convictions for other sex offenses. The federal child pornography laws are generally tougher than state laws, and must be defended by a lawyer with skill, knowledge and commitment.
For further information contact Benjamin Herbst for a free consultation about your case. Benjamin has represented numerous individuals charged with sex offenses and he is committed to fighting for all of his client’s rights in state and federal court the minute he is hired. He also has experience representing those individuals with impulse and addiction disorders that are unable to overcome their desire to download or view child pornography, and has worked with psychologists and counselors to aid in the successful resolution of cases.