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Pornography Laws in Washington

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Pornography laws are different for different regions around the world. Pornographic film production and distribution may be legal in numerous territories if the presentation comprises individuals of lawful age. In the US, while pornography is not illegal federally, it could depend on the Miller or three-prong obscenity test. In this article, we’ll talk about the pornography laws in Washington.

In Washington, viewing or possessing child pornography are two prosecutable offenses. Hence, an individual breaks the law by purposefully having or observing images of sexually explicit activities that involve a juvenile. The first and second-degree laws compose the other law divisions.

What Are Child Pornography Laws in Washington? 

The Washington Revised Code defines child pornography as possessing or observing content portraying sexually explicit actions by juveniles who are less than 18 years old. 

  • The law punishes anyone who has such material in video, printed, or digital form. The statute also forbids observing such content without informing the authorities quickly.
  • Moreover, the criminal offense may resemble violating the constitution’s First Amendment. However, this is not the case. Child pornography includes children’s sexual exploitation, which the First Amendment does not cover.
  • Therefore, anyone possessing and viewing such content will be supportive of the sexual exploitation of minors. Under Washington law, individuals with a felony conviction for this offense must serve over a year sentence in the state prison. Child pornography laws fall into two categories, second and first degree for possessing or viewing.

Possession & Observation 

Chapter RCW 9.68A comprises all the penal law sections addressing children’s sexual exploitation or child pornography. As per these laws, an individual can face charges for purposefully observing and owning obscene printed or visual content involving child pornography.

Applicable Offenses include the following:

  • The law forbids possessing images, written, or video content that contains minors aged below 18 taking part in sexually explicit behavior.
  • The law also punishes individuals for viewing such images of underaged individuals performing sexually explicit activities.
  • The first and second degrees match the magnitude of each offense. Here, the accusations for first-degree are most severe.

First-degree Watching Or Possessing Offenses 

The offense falls under the first degree when an individual gets charged for viewing and possessing content that comprises the following pornographic activities or representations:

  • It involves all sexual activities between individuals of different sex, same-sex, or between animals and humans. These could include contact between oral and oral, genital and genital, anal and genital, genital and oral, anal and oral.
  • Penetration of the rectum or vagina using a body part or other objects.
  • Abusive sadomasochism
  • Molestation
  • Urinating or defecating to stimulate the viewers sexually.

Second-degree Observation or Possession Crime

The offense falls under RCW 0.68A.011 definition (4) subsections (f) or (g) in second-degree when an individual gets charged for viewing and possessing content that comprises the following pornographic activities or representations:

  • It is felonious to show the pubic, rectal, or genitalia areas of an underaged individual in public or depict the breasts of an underaged female in public.
  • It is illegal to touch an individual’s breast region, buttocks, or pelvic area, regardless of whether the clothes cover them or not, to stimulate the sexual interest of the viewers.

Concerning the initial category of contents, please note that the minor does not have to be aware of any part of the sexually explicit behavior displayed. Additionally, “minor’ used for the applications of these regulations translates as all an individual who is less than 18 years old.

Possession & Viewing Penalties

Pornography Laws in Washington

The Washington state laws classify the first-degree offenses for possessing and viewing sexually explicit material as Class B felonies, which fall under serious crime. The offenders will have to serve a year to 14 months in state prison, accompanied by three years of probation or community service based on how severe the crime is.

One should know that committing the same offense several times can lead to a prison sentence of 10 years. The second-degree offenses for possession and viewing are Class C felonies. The penalties for these charges include a sentence of 3-9 months in the county prison, accompanied by one year of probation or community service.

Both offenses include a maximum sentence of 5 years in jail for multiple charges. Additionally, revenge porn is also a serious problem, whether an individual is the victim or accused of harming another person. Washington laws also include consequential repercussions for such conduct. The subsequent section discusses this.

Understanding Revenge Porn

You can understand revenge porn as the dissemination of non-consensual pornographic or sexual content. The material could include videos and images that the person would assume reasonably to be kept private. As per the criminal law, revenge porn comes under sexual harassment and cyberbullying.

The accused may share these contents via regular mail, email, or text. Publishing any images on the internet classifies as revenge porn in the digital age. An instance of revenge porn comprises a student acquiring unclothed photographs of the lover.

Another instance could be when a woman finds the videos of her current boyfriend and his past lover engaging in explicit sexual behavior. Driven by jealousy, she may upload the content on social media. It would be a clear case of revenge porn and is illegal, with the state charging the woman for violating the law.

Legal Restrictions

When it concerns the possession of pornographic material, it does not have to be so apparent. As per the prosecution, the accused must acquire the material knowingly. However, in the era of digital content, demonstrating so can be challenging, as such material may get downloaded on the device without the person’s knowledge.

It could be possible by clicking on a malicious link while browsing a suspicious website, with such content lying within the temporary browser files. Malware may also utilize the device to disseminate the material.

Authorities use strict operations to find the accused. These can have damaging consequences for innocent individuals. Hence, it is best to avoid unauthorized sources and suspicious links.


Observation or possession of sexual exploitation of minors or child pornography is a serious and punishable crime under the pornography law in Washington. The offense of viewing and possessing such content falls under first and second degrees, with the first one being the most severe. These offenses can lead to serving jail time of up to a year.

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