Recent press reports the Middlesex County arrest of nine individuals on New Jersey child pornography charges after a lengthy investigation. The county's Internet Crimes Against Children Unit made the arrests with investigation help from the State Police and other county investigation units. According to the press report, prosecutors charged the arrested defendants with various state child pornography crimes, including distribution, storage, and leading a child pornography network. Curiously, though, prosecutors charged several defendants with possessing fewer than 1,000 pornography files but one defendant with possessing more than 1,000 files. The contrasting charges show what a difference a few more files can make to the seriousness of the charges and potential outcomes.
Leading a Child Pornography Network
New Jersey treats a basic child pornography charge as child endangerment under New Jersey Stat. 2C:24-4. Anyone responsible for the care of a child “who engages in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child” faces such a charge. But the offense level can significantly increase under New Jersey Stat. 2C:24:4.1 when the defendant leads a child pornography network maintaining large numbers of depictions of unlawful child sexual activity. Then, the number of depiction files can make a huge difference to the offense level and penalty outcome. The statute states plainly,
“Leader of a child pornography network is a crime of the first degree if the offense involves 100,000 or more items depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child; a crime of the second degree if the offense involves at least 1,000 but less than 100,000 items depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child; and a crime of the third degree if the offense involves less than 1,000 items depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child.”
Offense Levels Make a Difference
Under New Jersey Stat. 2C:24:4.1, the number of child pornography files thus means the difference between a first, second, or third-degree offense. And those offense levels make a big difference in the potential sentence. New Jersey ordinarily punishes a third-degree offense with up to five years in prison. A second-degree offense jumps to five to ten years in prison, while a first-degree offense carries a sentence of ten to twenty years in prison. Both the potential minimums and maximums increase with each offense level. Computers can hold a lot of files with great user ease and little user effort. Beware of any child pornography file while also knowing that 1,000 such files are far too many.
Retain premier New Jersey criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team if you face New Jersey child pornography or other criminal charges. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now.