Home Law Child Pornography Laws in Pennsylvania? A Complete Guide 2023

Child Pornography Laws in Pennsylvania? A Complete Guide 2023

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Child Pornography Laws in Pennsylvania? A Complete Guide 2023

Many acts connected to child pornography are considered sexual abuse under Pennsylvania law. No matter whether it is a genuine or staged sexual act, taking pictures or making videos of a minor engaging in sexual activity is against the law in this state. Prosecutors have the burden of proving that the defendant acted willfully in photographing, recording, or videotaping the sexual conduct; however, they need not establish that the defendant knew the kid was a minor. In this article, we’ll talk about child pornography laws in Pennsylvania.

The distribution of child pornographic materials is illegal in Pennsylvania as per state law. Prosecutors may file a case against a suspect who publishes, offers for sale, distributes, or displays media that features minors under the age of 18.

What Counts As Sexually Harmful Conduct On The Web?

Charges for online sex crimes may occur in numerous ways, from seeking to meet someone for unlawful sexual interactions to seeing and sharing photos of kids over the internet. It is against the law in both Pennsylvania and the United States to engage in sexually explicit online communication with a minor.

The sending or receiving of sexually explicit messages, photos, or other forms of communication falls under this category. More than only child pornography, there is a wide range of online sex crimes. Online sex offenses include:

  • Distributing child pornography via sexting or sending naked photos of oneself to one another
  • Underage sexual exploitation occurs online, often in online chats and social media
  • Sexual exploitation and prostitution in cyberspace
  • Child pornography videos
  • Legalized sex crime

You are receiving or possessing child pornographic material as a result of downloading photos from a website. In addition, committing a sex offense online might lead to charges of corrupting kids. Both the state of Pennsylvania and the federal government of the United States may bring control in cases involving sex offenses committed online, depending on the nature of the alleged conduct.

The Teenage Sexing Law in Pennsylvania

Twenty percent of kids report sending or posting naked or partially naked photos of themselves via Sexting. Since sexting and cyberbullying have been linked to the deaths of a small number of teens, prosecutors spare no effort in trying to prove guilt. The FBI’s Law Enforcement Bulletin has further details on teen sexting.

Child Pornography Laws in Pennsylvania: Updated (2023)

Pennsylvania approved legislation in 2012 making sexting a summary crime for minors. The statute was intended to reduce the likelihood that a youngster would face criminal charges for child pornography. Nevertheless, these regulations appear draconian to many parents and kids, with 20% of teenagers engaging in sexting.

More severe sexual violations, such as taking or disseminating photos for profit or pictures depicting more intensive sexual actions, like intercourse, penetration, or masturbation, are exempt from this rule. There are more severe penalties for some offenses.

Defenses and Exemptions from Pennsylvania’s Child Pornography Laws

The accused may or may not be able to invoke one of the few exemptions to the state’s child pornography statutes as a defense, depending on the specifics of the case. Here are some of them:

  • The state does not enforce its child pornography prohibitions on publications that have a legitimate educational, scientific, governmental, or judicial purpose.
  • Someone under the age of 12 either watches, films, or distributes pornographic material featuring another person under the age of 12
  • If a minor watches pictures, videos, or otherwise portrays and distributes film of one, they are breaking the law.

It must be considered a defense to a child pornography viewing or distribution charge if it can be demonstrated that the defendant saw or distributed the content unintentionally or unwillingly.

Consequences and Punishment Under Child Pornography Laws in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, taking pictures, videos, or recording child pornography is a second-degree crime. A 10-year jail term is possible if you are found guilty. Whether or not the offender had prior convictions for the same act affects the severity of the sentence for distributing, watching, having, or controlling child pornography.

First-time offenders face up to five years in jail for committing a crime of the third degree. Any future crime will be treated as a felony of the second degree, with a maximum penalty of ten years in jail.

Defending Yourself Against Charges of Child Pornography

The prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They’ll need beyond reasonable doubt evidence to convict you of child pornography possession or use. To obtain evidence to support their allegation, police or federal agents must follow the required processes for any evidence to be accepted in court.

Child pornography investigations sometimes take weeks, if not months, of surveillance by law enforcement. Law enforcement and government organizations frequently depend on tips or sting operations to apprehend child porn criminals since these crimes are typically performed in secret.

Because of their larger budgets, federal agencies can devote more human resources and money to gathering evidence and data. They want to know whether there is a link between your alleged criminal behavior and the whereabouts of more prominent actors in child pornography operations.

You may be asked to come in for interrogation by the investigating police or federal agents as per the child pornography laws in pennsylvania. They can make up a story that you’re not a suspect but that your knowledge is crucial to their case. They want you to incriminate yourself, making you think you can be helpful.

If you are facing severe criminal charges, you should get a good lawyer

The government must establish the following in a child pornography prosecution for it to be successful:

  • The prosecution must first prove that the defendant had a pornographic book, pamphlet, magazine, slide, picture, film, videotape, computer representation, or other material portraying a minor under the age of 18 engaged in a sexual act or simulating a sex act.
  • Second, the prosecution has to show that the defendant saw or maintained child pornography to violate the law.


When it comes to child pornography charges, a lot has changed since the internet came along. People today can download illegal child pornography by clicking on the wrong tab while they’re online instead of the right one. It is essential to know that Pennsylvania law only punishes people who watch child pornography on purpose.

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