Recently, six men were arrested as the result of a 10-month child pornography sting in Minnesota. According to TwinCities.com, there were several separate incidents that involved disseminating and possessing child pornography. One of the men, a professor at the University of Minnesota-Rochester, faces one count of dissemination and 10 counts of possession. The school has already taken measures to remove the teacher from campus, even though the investigation is ongoing. As a sex crime lawyer in Minneapolis knows, charges related to child pornography are considered felonies that carry with them significant consequences.
According to the Minnesota statute, possession of child pornography is defined as the following:
- Owning a pornographic work or having one on a computer disk or other electronic storage file
- Having knowledge of the work
- The work involves sexual conduct with minors
Under the law, first-time offenders who violate the statute will be charged with a felony and could be sentenced for up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000. For repeat offenders or for people who are already registered sex offenders, the penalty can be as harsh as 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Sex offender registry
It is also important to note that anyone who is found guilty of possessing child pornography will have to register as a sex offender for 10 years upon release from prison. People who have prior sex offenses or other aggravating factors associated with their case may be sentenced to a lifetime sex offender registration.
As a sex crime lawyer in Minneapolis may have seen, sex offender penalties can have lifelong consequences. In addition to dealing with strained personal relationships, registered sex offenders may struggle to find gainful employment or suitable housing because of their criminal records. While it may be tempting, failing to register can result in additional sanctions.
Defending child pornography possession
People facing charges of child pornography possession should be aware of the defenses available to them. In Minnesota, it is not a viable defense to claim that the child or the child’s parents consented, nor can defendants claim that they did not know the child’s age.
In some cases, simply owning a computer can lead to a charge, despite the owner not knowing of the files on the computer. However, an attorney may be able to use technicalities related to when the images were downloaded or deleted in order to successfully defend the charge.
No matter the circumstances of a case, it is imperative for people facing sex crimes charges to immediately seek legal representation. Anyone with questions regarding the possession or dissemination of child pornography should consult with a sex crime lawyer in Minneapolis.